By Mark Morgan & Tom Homan*
In 2022, Republican leadership made numerous promises about securing the border, ending the Biden border crisis and reducing illegal immigration. Less than a month into this new Congress, they are already breaking their commitments.
If securing the border is the football, the GOP is Lucy. During campaign season, it’s all about securing the border “no questions asked.” Once safely elected, however, some members’ focus changes to “comprehensive immigration reform” or backroom deals that hold border security hostage to mass amnesty—and GOP leadership indulges them.
1986, 2007, 2013—there’s long been a massive disconnect between Republicans’ tough rhetoric on cable news and the campaign trail and the policies they support on Capitol Hill. That disconnect is on display once again.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) recently introduced H.R. 29, which would address the massive problem of asylum abuse. It would require illegal immigrants who apply for asylum to either remain in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) while their claim is adjudicated or return to a safe third country to await the outcome.
Individuals can still apply for asylum, but H.R. 29 ends the current practice of releasing those who do so into the interior of the country while their claims are processed.
The latter is key. Around 90 percent of the claims filed by illegal immigrants detained at the border are ultimately found illegitimate, and even though nine out of 10 will be ordered deported, very few will actually leave. Illegal immigrants can’t demand due process and the right to claim asylum but not adhere to a court’s final decision. Illegal immigrants know that if they claim asylum, they will be released into the U.S. and, under President Biden’s policies, almost never deported.
Roy’s commonsense plan removes the perverse incentive to abuse the asylum system, ends “catch and release” and mandates that Biden enforce the law. But a handful of Republicans have quickly moved to kill it.
Rep. Anthony Gonzales (R-Texas) called the measure “not Christian” and “anti-American,” falsely claiming it would ban asylum claims. Reps. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Maria Salazar (R-Fla.) (who supports amnesty for the tens of millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S.) also expressed public opposition.
Roy’s measure boasts nearly 60 co-sponsors. Three House Republicans have spoken against it. But Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has backtracked on his pledge in the “Commitment to America” to placate the renegades.
Both the “Commitment” and former House Homeland Security Chair John Katko’s American Security Task Force promised an end to catch-and-release and other policies that encourage illegal immigrants to abuse the asylum process.
And, as the Washington Post reports, McCarthy’s deal with House Republicans during the speaker’s race included a promise of a floor vote on Roy’s legislation.
By sending H.R. 29 back to committee (the same committee on which Gonzales sits and can effectively block the bill), McCarthy has broken both commitments.
Remember when one GOP congressman called his fellow Republicans “terrorists” for holding out to win concessions from McCarthy? What does that make these three Republicans blocking a bill supported by most of the caucus?
The American people can see who is serious about securing our borders and who isn’t. That means a floor vote.
The lies and mischaracterizations by Gonzales, Bacon and Salazar denigrate a measure that would begin to reduce the catastrophic damage wrought by this crisis. As more and more Border Patrol agents are pulled off the line to process and release historic numbers of illegal immigrants into our country, drugs, potential terrorists and violent criminals are flooding through.
Could Gonzales, Bacon or Salazar look in the eyes of parents who lost their children to fentanyl and justify their prioritization of illegal immigrants over the safety and security of Americans? How about the mother whose daughter was savagely killed by an illegal immigrant MS-13 gang member? Could they convince Angel Families that opposing policies that could reduce these senseless and preventable tragedies is righteous?
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They have ceded the moral high ground. While they stall H.R. 29, the status quo will continue—more Americans dying from fentanyl poisonings than ever, record numbers of women and children being sexually abused and assaulted on the journey to the border, and record numbers of migrants being found dead on U.S. soil.
There is nothing moral about opposing efforts that would reverse these trends.
Indeed, what is immoral is supporting policies that encourage those who do not qualify for asylum to overload the system at the expense of those who have legitimate claims—and our own border security. Seeking a better job or fleeing a bad neighborhood do not meet the legal bar for receiving asylum.
This crisis is an existential threat to our national security and sovereignty. Leadership has two choices—either bring this bill to the floor for a vote and show a commitment to border security without conditions or finally and irrevocably destroy any remaining credibility the GOP has on securing the border.