House Speaker Johnson Leads 64 GOP Reps to Eagle Pass on the Mexican Border
House Republicans are taking a stand – literally – on immigration policy by gathering at the US-Mexico border.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), who has warned that financial aid to Ukraine is contingent on “transformative change to our nation’s border security laws,” led a delegation of GOP lawmakers to Eagle Pass, TX last week to meet with local officials. With 64 lawmakers participating, it was the largest congressional border visit in US history.
“Life along the border is turned upside down and that’s exactly what the speaker and my colleagues are going to see,” said Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Texas Republican who represents the jurisdiction in which the border community of Eagle Pass is located. “Enough is enough. It’s time to deport those that illegally come into the United States.”
Despite much hemming and hawing about border security, the Biden Administration has done absolutely nothing to improve the crisis. Just this week, the Administration asked the Supreme Court to reinstate federal authority over the Texas/Mexico border following a lower court order blocking the removal of a razor wire fence that had been erected by Texas law enforcement to prevent migrants from crossing the Rio Grande.
“It’s been an eye opener,” said Johnson after his visit to Texas. “One thing is absolutely clear: America is at a breaking point with record levels of illegal immigration and today we got a firsthand look at the damage and the chaos the border catastrophe is causing in all of our communities. The situation here and across the country is truly unconscionable.”
Migrant apprehensions at the border peaked during the holidays, forcing the temporary closure of railroads and entry ports and prompting Secretary of State Antony Blinken to visit Mexico City to speak directly with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. As reported by ABC News, migrant encounters for the month of December reached 302,000 following 240,998 in October and 242,416 in November.
When Congress reconvenes this week after a holiday recess, the top priority for Republicans will be to reach a deal on immigration.
Knowing they will meet resistance in the Democrat-led Senate, GOP lawmakers have threatened to withhold their support for President Biden’s emergency wartime funding request for Ukraine unless Democrats help them on immigration. The $110.5 billion spending bill includes financial aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, $14 billion for border security, and a major replenishment of US weapons stocks. The deal must be passed by January 19th in order to avoid a partial government shutdown.
“If President Biden wants a supplemental spending bill focused on national security, it better begin with defending America’s national security,” said Speaker Johnson. “We want to get the border closed and secured first.”
Policy goals for Republicans include:
- Provide additional funds to hire more immigration judges
- Make it easier to deport illegals already living inside the country without a court date
- Narrow the scope of humanitarian parole (a federal ability that is used to admit immigrants who do not quality for a visa)
- Alter a law that prevents most asylum seekers from being deported immediately (even if they enter the country illegally)
- Restart border wall construction
- Reinstate former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy
In addition, the GOP-led House Committee on Homeland Security will soon move forward with rare impeachment proceedings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (a Cuban native who entered the US as a refugee with his parents in 1960) for his poor performance.
Republicans currently control the House of Representatives by a margin of seven voters; Democrats lead the Senate with a margin of two (or three, if you count the Vice President).
House Republicans Rally at Southern Border as Senate Talks Continue