The border crisis ravaging our nation is once again shaping up to be at the center of congressional debate — though the battle lines are not as clean as one might expect. House leadership recently signaled that legislation could soon come to the floor in April to curb the onslaught of illegal immigration at the southern border. Every House Republican in the Texas delegation, except one, has rallied around Rep. Chip Roy’s H.R. 29 to fix asylum loopholes and reimplement the “turn away” authority necessary to restore some semblance of sanity.
Left-leaning Rep. Tony Gonzales is the lone Texas Republican holdout.
Gonzales has effectively declared political war on his own conference and voters. He first falsely maligned the Roy bill as legislation that would ban “all asylum claims” and more recently, tagged the asylum reform bill as an “unchristian anti-immigrant bill.” Gonzales has declared that if the bill is brought to the House floor, he will be forced to vote “no” on the debt ceiling.
In reality, the bill provides for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to hold illegal immigrants in custody while they are in expedited removal proceedings, or to keep potential immigrants in Mexico while their asylum claims are being adjudicated. If DHS refuses to detain illegal immigrants, the bill mandates that immigrants be turned away at the border in a manner almost identical to Title 42 public health authority.
In other words, the legislation returns to Trump-era border security policies that succeeded in significantly curbing illegal crossings and invalid asylum claims. Yet Gonzales not only blatantly continues to lie about the bill’s contents but also deployed the proverbial nuclear option. He has shown he is willing to tank his party’s foremost priority — thwarting the Biden administration’s inflationary spending — if the bill comes to the floor for a vote.
Madness doesn’t even begin to describe this level of hubris. On pure substance, Gonzales is taking a position that more or less says, “If the asylum fraud, drugs, and human trafficking don’t continue flowing unabated, I’ll make sure to prevent Republicans from doing anything to lower your skyrocketing grocery and energy bills!”
Gonzales’ threat is a complete middle finger to his own border district voters, who remain at the mercy of the misery, chaos, and death inflicted by a cartel-controlled border. Since President Biden’s inauguration, more than 5 million illegal immigrants have crossed the southern border, with an estimated 1.2 million “got-aways” evading U.S. authorities to disappear inside the country’s interior. Conservatives have rightfully excoriated the Biden administration for ceding operational control of the southern border to murderous international drug cartels.
Indeed, among the cartels’ chief exports into our country is fentanyl — a synthetic opioid responsible for poisoning and killing more than 70,000 Americans in 2021 alone. For perspective, that’s more dead Americans in one year than the entirety of the Vietnam War. All of it directly connects to our porous southern border.
And yet, Gonzales is so unmoved by this reality that he believes thumping his chest in opposition to a straightforward solution supported by almost the entirety of his party is both sound messaging and good policy. It is hard to fathom the level of deluded arrogance one must possess to state “no one is going to out-border me” as a defense for opposing border security in an environment where American parents are burying their children at record rates due to cartel-trafficked poison.
Sadly, this untethered hubris is not an aberration for Gonzales. His militancy against key conservative and Republican principles has remained so steadfast and consistent that last month he was formally censured by the Republican Party of Texas. One has to actively try to get censured by one’s own party — and Gonzales managed the feat after just one term in office.
All of this comes at a moment when the federal government is being weaponized across the board to target its own citizens. Conservatives in Congress are employing the appropriations process to fight against the Biden administration’s abuses and profligate spending using the debt limit as leverage. Gonzales is actively working to sink the entire Republican congressional strategy to ensure the border remains open.
If the cartels had lobbyists in D.C., would they be doing anything different than Gonzales?
It’s enough to make one wonder what Gonzales gains by working so hard to tank safety and security for both his own constituents and the American people more broadly. Just who is Tony Gonzales? And whose interests is he looking out for? Those are questions he should have to answer. They are also questions current presidential candidates should answer as well.
Former President Trump — who endorsed Gonzales in his extremely narrow primary win against committed conservative Raul Reyes — should explain why he backed a de facto open-borders facilitator to represent the largest stretch of the southern border. And longshot candidate Nikki Haley should explain why she is campaigning with Gonzales while simultaneously discussing the need to secure the border.
These positions are in obvious conflict with one another. Supporting and campaigning with a fraud like Gonzales signals that one is more interested in the photo op and talking point of “securing the border” than the actual substance of doing so.
The Roy asylum reform bill is a pivotal first step to restoring some semblance of control along our chaotic southern border. House leadership should unflinchingly steamroll Gonzales and publicly rebuke him without hesitation. And every Republican candidate seeking the nomination for president would be wise to follow suit.