Washington, DC – The Republican House majority is planning to vote this week on H.R. 2, the “Border Security Act of 2023.” The bill is not a serious policy proposal for addressing the challenges at the border. It’s all politics. And it’s all a politics that is far too often laced with rhetorical echos of white nationalist conspiracies that create the climate for hate-fueled violence.
The House GOP’s legislative vision is a grab-bag of cruel, unworkable and extreme policies that would add more chaos and dysfunction to an already broken immigration system rather than advancing serious and popular solutions. But, it will provide fodder for their campaign fundraising and segments in the guest chair on FOX News, as the accompanying messaging summary from Speaker Kevin McCarthy demonstrates (see our take here).
H.R. 2 is the perfect encapsulation of the 12 anti-immigrant congressional hearings held thus far in the GOP majority – devoid of solutions but rife with opportunities for photo ops and demagoguery. There are three key things to know about H.R. 2:
- It’s about fundraising and talking points: It is highly unlikely this Republican-only bill will end up on Biden’s desk, and they crafted their proposal fully intent on it never having a chance to become law. Instead, H.R. 2 is designed for campaign fundraising emails, political stunts and partisan talking points. Fear-mongering about the border has become a mainstay of GOP political ads, and fundraising pitches, and H.R.2 keeps the con going by promising their base they are working on the issue with full knowledge that they are prolonging border challenges. They are literally banking on more chaos to fuel their cynical political fundraising and messaging attacks.
- It’s cruel and extreme: The legislation is the kind of anti-immigrant extremism that makes Stephen Miller giddy and receives vocal support from hate groups, including FAIR. The GOP bill would gut asylum, increase child and family detention, and create a show-me-your-papers scenario in the midst of future natural disaster relief efforts. It’s not where the American people are. According to one recent poll, most Americans agree that the U.S. should provide people fleeing persecution and other factors access to the asylum system. In a time of worker shortages that are driving inflationary pressures, their bill does nothing to allow long-term immigrants like Dreamers to work legally nor help hard-pressed industries in the service, construction and agriculture sectors.
- It’s unworkable and would add more chaos and inhumanity at the border: Beyond cruelty, there are no solutions in the bill. The centerpiece is, again, Trump’s wasteful and ineffective wall – breached more than 3,000 times per a 2022 Washington Post story. As we have noted, it’s a $15 billion border wall that can be cut through with a $15 dollar hand saw. Meanwhile, the GOP legislation would destroy legal pathways including parole programs that create new legal pathways to the U.S. that alleviate pressures at the border. The legislation also would strip funding used to process migrants and asylum seekers who arrive between ports of entry – a provision that not only would violate the law, but would add more chaos and inhumanity.
As Gabe Ortiz wrote: “The House GOP’s slim majority and unclear support means all eyes are now on a dozen Republicans who represent districts won by President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election or have sought to publicly portray themselves as more moderate voices within their caucus.” Battleground Republicans like David Valadao (R-CA), Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ), and Mike Lawler (R-NY) among others, have to ask if they will stand up or empower the extremists and obstructionists in their party.
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director at America’s Voice:
“If you are interested in a serious policy discussion about solving challenges at the border, you will have to look elsewhere. H.R. 2 is not a serious legislative proposal and should not be treated as such.
The House Majority spent weeks drafting a bill that is little more than content for a political ad and a fundraising email. It is more focused on ‘ build the wall’ and ‘open borders’ narratives than the hard work of legislative solutions. Further, H.R. 2 is the latest evidence that when it comes to the border, Republicans are more interested in receiving a $5 donation by demagoguing migrants than providing a secure and orderly process.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Not all Republicans have to continue to be steamrolled by the extremists and obstructionists. Those interested in solutions should reject H.R. 2 in favor of legislation in line with the majority of the American electorate and favorable to our nation’s long-term prosperity. ”