I was proud to be the first member of Congress to endorse Gov. Ron DeSantis for president of the United States. He is a bold conservative leader, a proven winner, and most importantly, a good man. He is the person we need — at the time we need him — to restore sanity and lead the great American comeback.
Nowhere is this more apparent than along our southern border. This week, I joined DeSantis in Eagle Pass, Texas, where he outlined a plan to secure the border once and for all. After visiting with a packed house of South Texans tired of words and desperate for leadership to end the chaos, secure their homes, and restore the rule of law against dangerous cartels, the governor was specific and clear. He will build the wall, fully enforce the law, stop the invasion, and take out the cartels — “No Excuses.”
DeSantis’ plan to finally secure the border and empower states like Texas to step into the breach shouldn’t surprise anyone. DeSantis has an unassailable record of supporting border security policies to protect Americans while opposing policies such as amnesty that would only make illegal immigration to America worse by rewarding those who violate our laws.
Indeed, in the only — and last — major legislative border security battle during his time in Congress, DeSantis did the right thing by our border states; he voted against mass amnesty and voted with conservatives for a bill commonly known as “Goodlatte 1.” In the summer of 2018, conservatives put forward “Goodlatte 1” which was a relatively strong immigration and border bill that appropriated $30 billion in wall funding, ended the diversity visa lottery program, closed the “loopholes” in our laws, and included no pathway to citizenship for recipients of President Obama’s unconstitutional DACA order.
However, Goodlatte 1 was being blocked by Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican establishment in favor of a second so-called compromise bill known as “Goodlatte 2,” which included $5 billion less in wall funding, merely shifted the visas in the visa lottery program to the merit-based program, and most disturbingly, included actual amnesty — a path to citizenship for potentially 2 million people.
In response to the “leadership” push to replace “Goodlatte 1” with the amnesty of “Goodlatte 2,” Ron DeSantis and other members of the House Freedom Caucus held up “must pass” legislation to demand a vote on Goodlatte 1. Thus, leadership was forced to put both bills on the floor. And what did DeSantis do? He voted for the strong bill with 192 other members of the House. That legislation only failed because 30 mostly establishment Republicans joined hand-in-hand with Nancy Pelosi and open-border Democrats to defeat it.
Then when the Goodlatte 2 amnesty approach was brought to the floor, DeSantis rightfully opposed this bill, which failed overwhelmingly with only 121 votes.
Opposing Goodlatte 2 should have been easy for every Republican in Congress, but it wasn’t. This is because on the morning of the June 27 vote, President Trump tweeted out at 7:39 a.m. in ALL CAPS that, “HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PASS THE STRONG BUT FAIR IMMIGRATION BILL, KNOWN AS GOODLATTE II, IN THEIR AFTERNOON VOTE TODAY…”
President Trump’s pressure campaign to force conservatives to support mass amnesty ultimately didn’t work, and Trump found himself trying to downplay his support for that bill to prevent anyone picking apart his narrative on border security. Three days after his tweet, Trump tweeted, “I never pushed the Republicans in the House to vote for the Immigration Bill, either Goodlatte 1 or 2, because it could never have gotten enough Democrats as long as there is a 60 vote threshold. I released many prior to the vote knowing we need more Republicans to win in Nov.”
The truly damning part is not that Trump wants to hide his support for the “Goodlatte II” amnesty bill, though that is a problem, but rather that he admitted he never wanted Republicans to even try to secure the border because it wasn’t as important as winning an election. And now, here we are in the worst border security crisis we’ve ever had simply because Republicans failed to put border security policies into statute and President Biden was able to overturn all the executive policies of the administration before him.
Now, as this next election cycle heats up, DeSantis is being falsely attacked for his border security record. Trump’s campaign recently lied about DeSantis by claiming that while in Congress, he “fervently supported” a mass amnesty bill in 2018 — purposefully conflating DeSantis’ support for the strong Goodlatte 1 bill with the amnesty policies included in Goodlatte 2, which he voted against.
They are even claiming DeSantis “voted against the wall” because he voted no with 89 other Republicans on Trump’s $1.3 trillion “omnibus” package that included only $1.5 billion for border security and “the wall.” But what they aren’t saying is even Trump, who ultimately signed the bill into law, threatened to veto the bill over — not the massive cost — but the very lack of wall funding and not enough amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
Trump tweeted: “I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded.”
It seems amnesty was part of Trump’s “border security” plan the entire time.
In fact, in 2018, Trump fully endorsed Sen. Chuck Grassley’s “Secure and Succeed” Act, saying that “the Grassley bill accomplishes the four pillars of the White House Framework: a lasting solution on DACA, ending chain migration, cancelling the visa lottery, and securing the border through building the wall and closing legal loopholes. I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill and to oppose any legislation that fails to fulfill these four pillars…” The Secure and Succeed Act provided “a generous and permanent solution for up to 1.8 million DACA or DACA-eligible recipients… an earned path to citizenship for these young people.”
Don’t be fooled into thinking Trump never pushed for mass amnesty, and don’t be fooled into thinking DeSantis did.
I applaud Trump’s use of his executive authority in his presidency to try to restore some semblance of control at the border. He and a number of his best advisers certainly deserve credit for moving forward with the wall despite resistance from Democrats, implementing “Return to Mexico” policies, and using Title 42 during the pandemic.
But do not mistake those successes for the kind of resolve necessary to fully get the job done. The former president failed to move strong border security legislation through Congress because he picked the wrong horses, like Paul Ryan, to ride into battle alongside.
Those are the facts. No amount of name-calling and denials can change the truth.
What such absurd attacks on DeSantis demonstrate is the understandable desperation by some to stop what most already know in their hearts and their minds to be true: President Donald Trump served an important role, but his time has passed, and Ron DeSantis’ time has arrived. No excuses.