U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the country's handling of the southern border on Tuesday during an annual House Committee examination. File Photo by Cristobal Herrera-Ulashkevich/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 15 (UPI) -- The heads of the FBI and Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday highlighted several threats, both domestic and abroad, facing the United States.
The remarks came during the annual examination held by the House Committee on Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., which also included National Counterterrorism Center Director Christine Abizaid.
Attempts by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea to undermine the United States on the global stage top the list of external threats, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas told lawmakers Tuesday. Mayorkas referred to those countries as "hostile nations."
"From cyberattacks on our critical infrastructure to increasing destabilizing efforts by hostile nation states, the threats facing the homeland have never been greater or more complex," Mayorkas said.
He stressed the threat of "evolving terrorism" also posed by "lone actors fueled by a wide range of violent extremist ideologies and grievances, including domestic violent extremists."
Mayorkas called domestic terrorists the greatest threat facing the United States. Wray said the risk posed by lone actors and small cells is more difficult to monitor.
"We have seen a trend over the last several years of people more and more in this country when they're upset or angry about something turning to violence as a way to manifest it. And that is a very, very dangerous trend," Wray said.
Congressmen questions Mayorkas about the situation at the southern border, primarily by the committee's Republican lawmakers.
"In the first two years of the Biden administration, we have seen a disturbing trend become a catastrophic humanitarian crisis at the border," the panel's top Republican, Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y. told the committee.
"Looking statistically, it seems like the border is getting worse," Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., told Mayorkas.
"The policies that you have put in place have failed and that they have failed miserably. We know that Commissioner Magnus recently was forced to resign from office, and I applaud you for removing him.
"I thought he did a terrible job. And I hope that there are other people that you will remove and that you will work with a Republican-controlled Congress to find a way to secure the border," he added, referencing former Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus, who resigned Saturday at the request of the White House.
Rep. Jake LaTurner, R-Kan., then asked if Mayorkas had considered resigning, given the thousands of migrants who continue to attempt to cross the southern border.
"Have you had a conversation with anyone in the administration about stepping down from your current role?" LaTurner asked
"I have not," Mayorkas replied.
"It's a very serious challenge ... that is not specific or exclusive to our southern border. This is a challenge that exists throughout the hemisphere."
U.S. border officials said they dealt with more than 77,000 migrants arriving from Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua in September alone.