Elisa Tambunga became pregnant with her daughter when she was only 19 and, according to Tambunga, her little girl quickly became the center of her world.
Usually, at about this time of year, Tambunga says she would be buying her elementary school-age daughter school supplies. Instead, the Texas mother sat before members of Congress at a joint hearing of two House subcommittees on Wednesday telling them how a human smuggler “murdered” her daughter and mother.
On March 13, Tambunga’s mother, Maria, and 7-year-old daughter Emilia were driving home from a playdate with family when a human smuggler crashed into them going more than 105 mph, Tambunga said at a joint hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security and Enforcement, and the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence.
“The blood of my little girl, Emilia, and mother, Maria, are spread among multiple hands in this administration,” Tambunga said in written testimony submitted to the subcommittees.
According to the mother, there were 11 illegal aliens in the vehicle, two of whom were also killed in the crash.
“The border crisis is a monster that is very much alive and thriving,” Tambunga wrote, adding, “This country’s borders are not secured.”
Tambunga is from Ozona, Texas, about 240 miles west of Austin, and about 80 miles north of the border with Mexico. She said that she lives in fear of a similar tragedy happening to another family. Now, Tambunga said, she is “asking this administration to fulfill your duty to protect American citizens.”
Following the death of Tambunga’s mother and daughter, Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, worked with Tambunga and other victims to introduce the Emi-Coke Accountability Act. The act would create a warning system for local law enforcement to alert communities, specifically border communities, of high-speed chases in the area. The bill is named in honor of Tambunga’s deceased mother and daughter.
With her mother and daughter gone, Tambunga says, her commitment is to “be the voice of the communities that need it the most.”
“Yes, we are a small town, 3,500 in population,” Tambunga said of her community. “But just because we’re in a rural part of Texas doesn’t mean that you can forget about us. If you work together, if we work together, I believe that we can decrease the chances of another family having to describe this pain to you. I believe that we can come together to make sure that our communities feel safe again.”
Wednesday’s hearing launched the third phase of the investigation into what Republicans say is the failure of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and President Joe Biden to secure America’s border.
The hearing, “The Real Cost of an Open Border: How Americans are Paying the Price,” examined the human cost on the lives of American citizens like Tambunga.
In June, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Mark Green announced an investigation into Mayorkas over the surge of illegal immigrants at the southern border, saying the probe is part of his committee’s “congressional oversight duties” and pledging to leave “no stone unturned in its efforts to get the facts.”
According to Green, R-Tenn., the panel’s investigation includes examining:
- Mayorkas’ dereliction of duty.
- How the border crisis facilitates the illegal activities of drug cartels.
- The human cost of the border crisis.
- The financial cost of the crisis.
- Suspected fraud within the Department of Homeland Security.
Since Biden took office, Customs and Border Protection has encountered more than 6.5 million illegal aliens on America’s borders. Since the start of fiscal year 2023 on Oct. 1, CBP has encountered more than 1.7 million illegal aliens on America’s southwest border alone.
The joint subcommittee hearing began while Mayorkas testified before the House Judiciary Committee regarding his efforts to secure America’s southern border. GOP lawmakers grilled Mayorkas on his border policies, the current fentanyl crisis, and the whereabouts of illegal aliens apprehended at the border who are on America’s terrorist watch list.
The House Judiciary Committee holds the authority to launch formal impeachment proceedings against Mayorkas, but has yet to do so.
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