Sargent writes “the scope” of House Republicans’ very first immigration-related bill “has rattled dozens of House Republicans, many of whom worry it would prevent migrants and unaccompanied children fleeing violence from seeking asylum in the United States—a traditionally protected tenet of the country’s immigration laws.” These days, respecting those U.S. asylum laws gets to count you as a “moderate.”
While dozens have cosponsored Chip Roy’s “Border Safety and Security Act,” the chamber’s slim majority means that the few publicly concerned by the proposal have some major leverage, like Texas’ Tony Gonzales. He seems to be emerging as a major thorn in McCarthy’s side because in addition to pushing back against Roy’s bill, he’s also said he’s opposed, at least for now, to the impeachment effort against Mayorkas.
“We can’t allow the Republican Party to be hijacked,” he said in Sargent’s piece. “Trying to ban legitimate asylum claims—one, it’s not Christian, and two, to me, it’s very anti-American. So a lot is at stake.”
There is a lot stake, and seeking to tear up asylum law and provisions for children under anti-trafficking legislation (keep in mind this is the same party that claims it’s very, very concerned about kids) is profoundly anti-democratic, and against the values we say we espouse as a nation. It’s also true that in this Congress, Gonzales and those opposing the bill are the outliers, not the other way around. Remember that as Republicans were preparing to take control of the chamber last November, noted white supremacist Stephen Miller was spotted walking into McCarthy’s office. McCarthy himself had promised right-wing rags that pro-immigrant bills won’t pass his chamber.
Sargent writes the bill now heads back into committee following a request from Don Bacon, another Republican who’d expressed concerns. “We’re convinced that if it goes through committee, some of the areas that we’re worried about, like asylum rules, will hopefully get fixed or improved,” he told Sargent.
For a bill to go back to committee can sometimes spell doom. It can be a legislative graveyard for it to simply go back, be forgotten, and die on a pile of other proposals. But members of the House Homeland Security Committee now include Marjorie Taylor Greene, a co-sponsor of the bill. Republicans of this type have often considered anyone being able to successfully be granted relief under our asylum system a “loophole.” There are certainly major improvements we can make to our immigration system overall, but this bill ain’t it. Green’s cosponsorship tells us all that already.
While we’re on the topic, one improvement could be to be more supportive of the work being done by nongovernmental organizations, like Catholic Charities. But Republicans are instead attacking them for legally aiding migrants processed and released by U.S. officials.
Should the bill again emerge from committee largely unchanged for a potential floor vote, it’ll be a test for Gonzales’ commitment to his own words and who he can rally to his corner. It’s worth remembering that a number of House Republicans supported two pro-immigrant measures passed under Nancy Pelosi’s leadership and that weren’t tied to any harsh provisions that punished anyone. Nine Republicans voted for the Dream and Promise Act in 2021, while 30 voted for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. Eight of the nine who voted for the former are still in office. (Fred Upton retired.) Those eight alone could be more than enough to tank Roy and his vision.
“Rep. Gonzales and other Republicans concerned about the political blowback to GOP nativism will have lots of heartburn in coming weeks,” noted America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas. “In addition to the Chip Roy anti-asylum legislation, Republicans remain hellbent on defining themselves by their anti-immigrant extremism,” and have hearings scheduled that will be monopolized by the likes of Greene and white nationalist Paul Gosar.
Handful of House Republicans are iffy about Mayorkas impeachment—and McCarthy can't afford a handful
Texas Republican wants to secure the border by defunding department tasked with border security
Troll senator calls for immigration reform after helping kill immigration framework just last month
We've got a special double-barreled, two-guest show for you on this week's episode of The Downballot! First up is Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United, who discusses her group's efforts to roll back the corrupting effects of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision as we hit the ruling's 13th anniversary. Muller tells us about ECU's short- and long-term plans to enact serious campaign finance reform; how the organization has expanded into the broader voting rights arena in recent years; and research showing the surprising connection many voters drew between the GOP's attacks on democracy and their war against abortion rights.
Then we're joined by law professor Quinn Yeargain to gape slack-jawed at the astonishing setback Gov. Kathy Hochul experienced in the state capitol on Wednesday when a Democratic-led Senate committee rejected her conservative pick to lead New York's top court. Yeargain explains why Hochul's threatened lawsuit to force the legislature to hold a full floor vote on Hector LaSalle defies 250 years of precedent and what will happen if she eventually retreats—as she manifestly should.