Some House Republicans Willing to Force Government Shutdown After Eagle Pass Border Visit


“We have major, major problems and I continue to say this is an imminent national security threat.”

Following a visit to the southern border last week, some House Republicans urged their colleagues to treat the situation at the border as a major national security risk and to be willing to force a government shutdown to get Democrats and the Biden administration to accept stricter immigration policies and border security measures.

Around 60 House Republicans visited the west Texas border town of Eagle Pass last week. Speaking with NTD’s “Capitol Report” on Tuesday, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) said that the trip marked his fourth visit to the U.S. southern border and that he agreed to go once again to see “how bad the conditions had evolved over the last year.”

“We have major, major problems and I continue to say this is an imminent national security threat,” he said.

Mr. Rosendale noted reported preliminary estimates that U.S. border personnel recorded about 302,000 encounters along the U.S. southern border in December, which would represent the busiest month on record for border officials.

Mr. Rosendale said that upon arriving in Eagle Pass, he also learned that border officials in that sector were working to process about 10,000 illegal immigrants, of whom 200 were deemed individuals of special interest “meaning that they weren’t sure exactly where they were from, they weren’t sure what exactly their intentions were when they arrived here.” He said these 200 special interest individuals and the broader group of 10,000 illegal immigrants were ultimately “whisked off and distributed around the country” before border officials could perform additional vetting efforts.

The Montana Republican said he learned border officials have identified members of up to 168 nationalities who’ve attempted border crossings, including Chinese nationals and people from Middle Eastern countries. Even more concerning, he said, is the approximately 2 million “gotaways” that border officials have estimated have been able to cross into the United States without being stopped. Mr. Rosendale said some of these “gotaways” have even been observed wearing sophisticated camouflage suits to avoid being detected.

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“If it is so easy to cross the Rio Grande and Eagle Pass Texas and get a new pair of shoes, clean underwear, and a basically a bus ticket or a flight ticket to go anywhere in the country that you want, why would you go through all the work to sneak in under the cover of night? How bad of a criminal do you have to be?” Mr. Rosendale wondered.

Mr. Rosendale said that if even a fraction of the 2 million gotaways intend to cause harm to the United States “they can wreak havoc across the nation with our national security.”

Looking beyond the national security concerns, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) said the influx of people at the southern border still puts a strain on the United States and border communities in particular.

“People are trying to understand why, if you’re a resident of Eagle Pass, you might be waiting in the waiting room of the ER, because illegal aliens, who aren’t supposed to be in your community, are going ahead of you in line. You may be wondering why there’s five ambulances in Eagle Pass, but one of them is dedicated solely to dealing with the illegal aliens who are coming across the border,” Mr. Biggs said. “And people are fed up with it in that community.”

Republicans Weigh Shutdown Fight

Mr. Rosendale said the various official Republican visits to the southern border may indicate that Republican awareness of border security concerns is rising, but expressed doubts about whether they are willing to take a stand on the issue.

“I think when Jan. 19 rolls on, and we are faced with funding government or doing something about securing our southern border, at that point, that’s where I’m drawing the line and say ‘until we can see the numbers reduce that are crossing into our country illegally from the southern border, I’m not willing to fund the balance of the federal government,” he said.

Mr. Rosendale said Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans benefits would continue to be funded in a partial government shutdown, while about 15 percent of the government budget would go unfunded if Congress doesn’t agree to a new budget or continuing resolution by Jan. 19 when the current round of government funding runs out.

“That is a small price to pay, and if we can use that as leverage to secure our nation’s borders, I think that we absolutely should be doing so,” he said.

Mr. Biggs said several officials and advocates Republicans had met with during their visit to Eagle Pass had “begged” Republicans in Congress not to fund the federal government until the Biden administration commits to greater efforts to enforce existing border security policies.

“If you’re going to get this administration to actually enforce the law, you’re going to have to reduce their funding in the programs that they want to have funded, which is a twofer because we spent way too much money as it is. But the second thing is they would be incentivized to actually enforce the law,” Mr. Biggs told “Capitol Report.”

In a letter to colleagues last week, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said Republicans had the opportunity to tie their border security demands to a measure to temporarily fund the government last fall, but said his “more conservative” colleagues in Congress “were instrumental in shooting down” the effort.

Mr. Roy said the decision not to tie border security to that earlier government funding measure was a “disastrous mistake, and as equally tiresome and problematic as the excuses Republicans typically give about fearing ’shutdown.’ Thus, this letter is directed to all of us, for while Democrats own the crisis and abuse of our laws, we Republicans own the failure to force a response to that crisis.”

Asked to respond to Mr. Roy’s letter last week, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Ala.) told CBS News that Republicans aren’t threatening to shut down the government over their border security demands, but that House Republicans “understand this is a critical issue.”

Republicans in both the House and the Senate have already attached their demands for border security to a more than $100 billion supplemental spending request submitted by President Biden this fall. The president’s supplemental spending proposal linked several billion in new border and immigration funding to his other spending priorities, like continuing to fund Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia.

Mayorkas: Border Crisis is on Congress to Resolve

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas paid his own visit to Eagle Pass on Monday, during which he placed the responsibility on Congress to alleviate the “tremendous stress on our broken immigration system” and fund “our under-resourced facilities.”

Mr. Mayorkas argued that lawmakers should approve President Biden’s spending supplemental, arguing that money will allow the Department of Homeland Security to hire more Border Patrol agents, as well as asylum officers and immigration judges to adjudicate a backlog of more than 3 million immigration cases that has built up over the years, and to fund new facilities to detain people arriving at the border.

“We will continue to do everything we can, and we will continue to enforce the law, but we need Congress to make the legislative changes and provide the funding that our frontline officers so desperately need,” he said.

The DHS secretary’s remarks come as the Republican-led House Committee on Homeland Security is set to consider whether he should be impeached.

Mr. Rosendale suggested the Mr. Mayorkas had simply made his visit to Eagle Pass in order to win support in the oncoming impeachment deliberations.

“He was trying to deploy a PR stunt to try and generate a little bit of support so that his impeachment wouldn’t move forward,” Mr. Rosendale said. “The problem is that he has demonstrated that he has no regard for the law whatsoever. He has not only violated our laws and allowed the southern border to be in the state of an invasion by anybody’s description, but he’s also stopped [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] from doing their job once all these illegals do arrive in our country, keeping them from performing raids and removing and deporting the illegals once they come upon them.”

During his Monday press remarks, Mr. Mayorkas rejected allegations that the DHS is not enforcing the existing immigration laws. He claimed the DHS has removed, returned, or expelled the majority of people it has encountered at the southern border over the course of the Biden administration, and that more noncitizens without a basis to remain in the United States were removed in the five-month period since May of 2023 than in any other five-month period in the last decade.

“We are doing everything we can, within a broken system, to incentivize noncitizens to use lawful pathways, to impose consequences on those who do not, and to reduce irregular migration,” he said.

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