Two former Trump administration officials called out House Republicans, saying they’ve failed in addressing the crisis at the southern border, during a call sponsored by the Heritage Foundation Thursday.
Former acting Customs and Border Commissioner (CBP) Mark Morgan and former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Tom Homan criticized House Republicans, saying they’ve failed to act on their promises to fix the surge in illegal migration and drug smuggling at the southern border.
While House Republicans have said they will move to secure the border, they have so far failed to unify around any particular piece of legislation in the new Congress.
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“For two years, Republicans have made the case that this administration is solely responsible for intentionally taking the most secure border in our lifetime and unsecuring it. They’ve had two years to draft effective border security legislation. It’s shocking for me personally that a bill has not already been put on the floor, a strong border security bill that would get full support of the Republicans. In my opinion, it should’ve been H.R. 1,” Morgan said, adding that Republicans should back Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy’s “Border Safety and Security Act of 2023.”
Roy’s bill seeks to allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deny entry to illegal immigrants if they don’t have correct documents and can’t be detained until “operational control” can be achieved.
“It’s a common sense bill that requires this administration to enforce the law, apply consequences to those who violate it and what’s very important is it provides a deterrence in part through ending catch and release. It’s not complicated, it’s pretty straightforward. And, again, that doesn’t include everything, I want to be clear on that, but at least it will put us in the right direction and step in the right direction stop the bleeding,” Morgan said.
Morgan pointed to three Republicans, Texas Rep. Tony Gonzalez, Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon and Florida Rep. Maria Salazar, who he argues oppose the bill and “lie” by saying it will end asylum altogether.
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“Right now, we have a small handful of Republicans that are obstructing HR 29, this common-sense bill, from getting to the floor to the vote. And what’s especially shocking to me is that some of the comments are flat-out lies; it’s not spin, it’s flat-out lies about what the bill does and doesn’t do. Like there’s been a claim out here that it denies asylum from those seeking lawful asylum. It’s a lie. That’s not true. The bill does not do that. I would argue actually, it gives it those that are seeking the legitimate asylum, and actually a streamline by deterring others that are coming here filing fraudulent claims,” Morgan said.
Bacon, however, told the DCNF that he doesn’t oppose the bill per se but would rather it move through committee to be amended and improved.
“My primary goal is to have this bill go through Committee and regular order so that all members of the Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees can review and improve it as needed. Some critics have said the bill could totally shut down asylum requests. I’m not sure that is the case, which is why this bill needs to go through the regular process. This new majority has agreed to regular order, and we shouldn’t deviate from that in the first few weeks of this new Congress,” Bacon said in a statement to the DCNF.
“The same group of people who want this to bypass regular order are the ones who demanded regular order for all bills during the Speaker’s votes in early Jan. They should follow the rules they demanded. Rules for thee and not for me doesn’t work for the good order of the House,” Bacon said.
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However, Homan echoed Morgan’s feelings toward the Republicans he believes are opposing Roy’s bill, saying all they need to do is come to the negotiating table.
“I’m frustrated that the Republicans don’t get together and talk to Chip Roy and work within his bill, rather than saying it’s un-American,” Homan said.
Without any action, the surge at the U.S.-Mexico border is expected to continue. In fiscal year 2022, CBP encountered more than 2.3 million migrants at the southern border and more than 250,000 in December alone, marking the highest month on record.
On top of migrant encounters, there have been increases in migrant deaths and drug seizures at the southern border. DHS recorded roughly 750 migrant deaths at the southern border in fiscal year 2022, CNN reported in October.
“How many more people have to die before we stop playing politics as usual? What are we going to say enough is enough, it’s time for all Republicans to follow through with their endless promises the past two years. And if we don’t, I promise you we stand ready to hold them accountable,” Morgan said.
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