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Does Tony Gonzales Know Which Party He Belongs To?

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During an interview with Margaret Brennan on CBS’s Face the Nation this past weekend, Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales (TX-23) surprisingly gave the Biden administration credit for the plummeting number of migrants that have been trying to cross between ports of entry since the end of Title 42 on May 11. 

He also said it is time for Congress to act to fix our broken immigration system.

On both counts, the real surprise is Rep. Gonzales’s complete lack of self-awareness about his party and where its leaders stand on immigration. His party is not in his corner: they give Biden no credit for the drop in immigrants seeking refuge and are stonewalling any action in Congress.

More troubling for Gonzales is his lack of spine when it comes to standing up against his party’s blood lust when it comes to demonizing immigrants.

Last week, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s cruel border policies became an international story, Rep. Gonzales, in the vaguest terms possible denounced the cruelty, though failed to mention Gov. Abbott by name, or tell him to stop Operation Lone Star, a controversial, wildly-expensive and likely-illegal policy that has been in place since March 2021. 

It seems that Rep. Gonzales forgot – or maybe chooses to ignore – the dangers his party is creating for those seeking asylum and the dangers that their rhetoric is creating across the country. As America’s Voice has documented, Republicans have long given up on actually finding solutions on the issue of immigration, and instead are resorting to running entire campaigns, including presidential ones, on making villains of immigrants, of using “invasion” language that we know is deadly, and pushing conspiracy theories, like the “great replacement” that is embraced by racist white nationalists, along with countless Republicans. 

Just last week, we published a blog directly asking Rep. Gonzales three questions as more details came out about Gov. Abbott’s callousness at the border: 

  • Does Gonzales support the draconian practice of pushing children into a deadly river? And if not, what is he going to concretely do about it? What investigation, what legislation, anything more than some tweets? 
  • Will Gonzales buck the extremists in his party and actually work towards solutions to reform our broken and out-of-date immigration system? Or will he continue to be all talk and no action?    
  • Will Gonzales commit to calling out his fellow Republican members when they employ dehumanizing white nationalist rhetoric about migrants?   

On the first question, it seems like Rep. Gonzales provided an answer through a series of tweets that at the very least denounced pushing migrant children back into a river in which they might drown, which kudos to Rep. Gonzales for doing the bare minimum, but he failed to address who was behind the policy in question. Hint: it’s Gov. Abbott. 

It often seems that Rep. Gonzales is living in an alternate reality, in which he believes that his party actually cares about addressing immigration not just an issue to demagogue, actively making targets of migrant communities through their dangerous rhetoric and policies. And through that complete lack of self-reflection, Rep. Gonzales has failed to address the other pressing questions. It seems that he has no intention of taking any concrete, meaningful steps to push back against his party and its failures on the border, and is only content at using this issue to seem moderate but still be in lock-step with his party. 

In his Face the Nation interview over the weekend, Rep Gonzales said, “The administration is doing very little, nothing to focus on legal immigration.” Which of course to us who follow the issue closely, know is not true. President Biden has expanded legal pathways for asylum seekers, in an effort to push people away from making the dangerous trek through Central America and Mexico, and in fact we encourage him to use his power to protect more individuals. 

These programs have helped alleviate the pressure at the border, and have played a role in the relative calm and order in the region following the end of Title 42. But now these programs that are providing relief are under attack. And from who? None other than impeached and indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, another Republican from Rep. Gonzales’s own state. Yet, he remains silent about that. 

Rep. Gonzales would go on to say, “That’s why I saw we got to stop waiting on the president. It has to be Congress that leads and it has to be the rank and file that come together.” 

Another shocking comment from a sitting Member of Congress, who I think for a second forgot that he need not wait for the president to do anything in order to finally address this issue. But as we know, his party doesn’t want a solution. The Republican Party wants chaos. They want to use migrants, including vulnerable babies and children, as a political pawn for its extremist agenda, an agenda that Rep. Gonzales fails to ever acknowledge and continues to empower with his votes. 

And, while it’s one thing to go on CBS News, we have to wonder, what, if anything, does Gonzales say to his GOP colleagues and Gov. Abbott?