When Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 28, Republican senators grilled him before all the major networks. Sen. Ted Cruz (R.-TX) was particularly harsh, scoring easy points with conservative media. But while senators rhetorically roasted Mayorkas, House Republicans look unable to pass a sensible border bill despite a plethora of measures now before the Judiciary Committee. This contrast between the furious rhetoric and the stalled action shows what the GOP might do on immigration: nothing. Stupid Party lawmakers might just settle for theatrics, while doing nothing to stop the illegal-alien invasion at the southwest border. This is not what Republican voters want and it will do the party no favors for 2024.
The Mayorkas hearings did feature sound criticism of the beleaguered DHS chief (who should have been indicted for visa fraud when he worked for the Obama Administration). Cruz gave Mayorkas a licking he’ll never forget. When Cruz showed him a photograph (above) of the color-coded wristbands illegals wear to show how much money they owe cartel smugglers, Mayorkas was flummoxed. “I don’t know what they are,” he confessed.
“You don't know what they are!” Cruz replied. “Mr. Secretary, you’ve just testified to the American people you’re incompetent at your job!”
The deaths, the children assaulted, the children raped—they are at your feet, and if you had integrity, you would resign.
Mayorkas called Cruz “revolting,” to which Cruz replied that Mayorkas’ refusing to do his job is revolting [Targeting Biden’s Immigration Policies, Republicans Attack Mayorkas, by Karoun Demirjian, New York Times, March 28, 2023].
Utah Sen. Mike Lee appeared to show support for Cuban immigrant Mayorkas’s impeachment: “Your department has spent an inordinate amount of money preparing for impeachment proceedings,” Lee said. “Could it be perhaps that they know that you have been doing this—that you’ve been redefining statutory terms, failing to enforce the law? That seems removable to me.”
Even squishes got in on the action. Texas Sen. John Cornyn, one of the worst Republicans on immigration, attacked Mayorkas over the fentanyl epidemic. Cornyn shared devastating stories of children who were killed by the deadly drug and asked the DHS chief if he would apologize to their families. Mayorkas did not apologize, which prompted an angry reply from Cornyn. “You should be fired, but you haven’t been fired because you were carrying out the policies of the Biden administration, and we’ve seen nothing but death and destruction as a result,” the senator declared [Mayorkas refuses to apologize to parents of children killed by fentanyl in testy hearing, by Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, March 28, 2023].
After the hearing, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy offered this amusing coda:
Here’s what I learned today. I learned today that either Secretary Mayorkas believes in completely, completely Open Borders or he is not qualified to manage a Chuck E. Cheese. Now, he is not incompetent. He is not an unintelligent man. It is clear to me, after listening to the secretary for about three, maybe 4 hours, that he believes in Open Borders.
[Sen. John Kennedy: Either Mayorkas believes in open borders or he is not qualified to manage Chuck E. Cheese, Fox News, March 29, 2023]
Obvious question: Will all this rage end in Mayorkas’ impeachment or legislation to stop the invasion? The noisy attacks on Mayorkas show that Republicans are indeed ready to impeach and remove him. Cornyn’s eagerly pushing for Mayorkas’ departure suggests even GOP Establishment support for the idea.
The issue is whether House “moderates” aka squishes will vote to impeach. Legislators such as Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales have been negative. And they don’t seem to have changed their minds. Maybe Gonzales won’t get the message until one of Biden’s “paroled” illegals murders a family in the congressman’s border district.
But as for legislation, the squishes’ continued resistance to anything sensible shows they won’t do anything productive.
Thus Texas Rep. Chip Roy’s border bill is supposed to be included in the House Republicans’ upcoming debt ceiling package. The bill aims to block dubious asylum seekers from the country by empowering DHS to turn away illegals who claim asylum but cannot be detained. It also allows for the immediate deportation of illegals if the U.S. government does not have “operational control” of the border, which, of course, it doesn’t. Indeed, the government has no control; the borders are open. Making this proposal part of the debt ceiling fight would show that Republicans are serious about stopping the invasion. But, again, Gonzales and his fellow squishes are still hostile to that idea. The Hispanic Republican, who appears to be a Hispanic nationalist, declares he will vote against any debt ceiling bill that includes Roy’s idea.
Indeed, Gonzales goes over the top with contemptuous rhetoric. “There is no one more committed to solving this problem, but I am not going to allow politics to be played, and I’ll push back against anyone to that point. HR 29 is a bad bill and it is dead,” he told reporters this week. “No one is going to out-border me.”
Granted, Gonzales represents a majority Hispanic border district, but it’s unclear how no one can “out-border” him. He proposes that Congress “get off its ass and work on immigration reform.” But for Gonzales, reform means keeping the borders open:
Immigration reform starts with work visas. What I see happening is everybody is focused on trying to combat and work on the illegal part of it. There has to be some legal aspects that alleviate some of the stress.
[Key Republican says House GOP border bill is ‘absolutely dead,’ by Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, March 28, 2023]
Translation: Increase legal immigration and do nothing about bogus “asylum seekers.”
But Gonzales doesn’t just disagree with the proposal. He amplifies his displeasure with ad hominem vitriol. “Bring unchristian, anti-immigrant bills to the floor and I am a NO on the debt ceiling,” he tweeted [Texas Republican threatens to vote ‘no’ on debt ceiling if GOP brings up ‘unchristian anti-immigrant bills,' by Julia Shapero, The Hill, March 29, 2023].
So border control is “un-Christian.” Got it.
Unfortunately, Gonzales’s intransigence is working. Roy’s proposal, with other immigration legislation, was set to go to the Judiciary Committee for a markup last week, but was delayed once again. Now, mid-April is the target for initial committee action. The bill has been repeatedly punted since January.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy promised to make the illegal-alien invasion one of his top concerns, yet Congress hasn’t advanced a single border-control measure, because of Gonzales and other squishes [GOP leadership pushes back immigration, border bill markup amid infighting, by Adam Shaw, Fox News, March 23, 2023].
Chip Roy is confident his measure will eventually pass, the Examiner’s Giaritelli reported in her March 28 article. “There’s a lot of unanimity in the conference, and one or two people have kind of put themselves on islands,” Roy said.
Gonzales has indeed put himself on an island, but that island is controlling the flow of legislation. If a lone squish can decide what bills pass and which don’t, what’s the point of having the House majority?
Maybe Republicans think they don’t have to pass any bills to please the base, and more important, to at least try to stop the Great Replacement. Maybe they believe they can give Biden officials a scalding steam-bath for the soundbites on Fox and call it a day. After all, conservative media loved the Mayorkas hearing; numerous press appearances followed. And the hearing allowed squishy senators like Cornyn to pretend they’re border hawks. The histrionics don’t solve anything, but they do make Republicans seem like they’re doing something.
But GOP can’t hope to run on theatrics and bluster in 2024. Voters won’t care how much Republicans laid into Mayorkas if they couldn’t impeach him. Nor will they care about the GOP’s protesting the fentanyl and illegals pouring across the border on Biden’s watch if the House majority failed to pass a single bill to stop the invasion. Republicans must do more than talk—they must act.
Gonzales should not go unpunished. The Texas GOP has already censured him. It’s time to back a primary challenger who will support the majority’s immigration agenda. After all, immigration patriot Raul Reyes almost beat him in the 2020 primary. Then Gonzales can retire to a job on CNN. There’s no need for him in Congress. GOP leadership must exert pressure on him and others to pass Roy’s immigration bill. Otherwise, they’re just surrendering to a tiny minority more concerned with immigrants than with Americans.
Chip Roy’s bill is a great idea. It might not pass the Democrat-controlled Senate, but that doesn’t matter. Republicans must pass it in the House to show they’re serious. Mere theatrics won’t cut it in the 2024 election.
Washington Watcher II [Email him] is an anonymous DC insider.