Senator John Cornyn is facing a tough re-election fight against Democratic challenger M.J. Hegar ahead of tonight’s Senate debate. Polls show the diversifying Texas electorate holds overwhelmingly pro-Dreamer and pro-citizenship sentiments and Senator Cornyn’s hypocrisy and failures on immigration have been a recent focus of the race. Here are four key immigration questions for Senator Cornyn ahead of Friday’s debate:
Question #1: You say you support Dreamers’ citizenship and a standalone bill – so will you call for a vote on the “Dream and Promise Act” (H.R.6)?
We have labeled the distance between what Senator Cornyn says and how he votes the “Cornyn Con,” or in Spanish, “La Farsa Cornyn.” Witness his recent claim in a Spanish language ad that he “strongly supports legalization for Dreamers,” despite voting against legal status for Dreamers in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2018. PolitiFact Texas judged Sen. Cornyn’s claim a half-truth and their story on his record contained this gem of a quote from a Cornyn spokesman, Drew Brandewie, “One can support legalization without supporting or voting for the DREAM act,” the bill which gives Dreamers their name.
Now Senator Cornyn is changing his tune – claiming he has evolved and supports a standalone bill to legalize Dreamers. Well, he has a great chance to prove it by calling for an immediate vote on H.R. 6, “The Dream and Promise Act,” which passed the House of Representatives in 2019 and is awaiting Senate action. Cornyn is in Senate Republican leadership; he should use his influence to call for a vote on the pending “Dream and Promise Act” if he wants to prove his new position isn’t just more Cornyn Con.
Question #2: Do you support the seizing of private land to build President Trump’s border wall?
President Trump’s border wall is a corrupt, failing, and racist monument to his own ego. And now Trump wants to spend more than $80 million to paint sections of it black in South Texas, part of the $15 billion tab to American taxpayers for wall construction.
Making matters worse, the Trump administration wall construction is trampling environmental sites, sacred and sovereign Native lands, and the rights of Texas landowners. A 2019 NPR story titled, “Rio Grande Valley Landowners Plan To Fight Border Wall Expansion,” quoted 90-year old Elvira Canales of Salineño, whose property was at risk, saying: “I won’t sell it, or I won’t give it permission because it’s my property for generations and generations.” Senator Cornyn should explain his stance toward the border wall and specifically whether he supports the Trump administration’s seizure of private land.
Question #3: Why did you side with President Trump to raid money appropriated by Congress for the military and FEMA and put it toward the border wall?
On the border wall, Senator Cornyn has sided with Trump to enable the raiding of billions in funds initially appropriated by Congress for military families and disaster relief efforts, such as through FEMA. As a reminder, as the Texas Tribune reported, “about $265 million for construction and other projects on military bases in Texas could be diverted to build walls on the southern border,” according to a Department of Defense report.
In September 2019, Congress attempted to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration, which the President used as a pretext to raid the military and disaster funding, but Senator Cornyn sided with Trump and voted against the joint resolution. Cornyn then was conveniently absent for the October 2019 Senate vote seeking to overturn President Trump’s veto of the joint resolution.
Question #4: How have you used your supposed Senate power and leadership to move forward pro-immigrant policies for Texas and check Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda?
John Cornyn holds the second most powerful position in Senate leadership, serving as the Republicans’ second-in-command during their years in the majority. Yet when it comes to exerting that power and delivering on the immigration issues he claims to care about, he conveniently never seems to make it happen. Whether it’s separating children from their parents with no plan to reunite families, ending DACA, ending TPS, and diverting money away from military bases and families for the border wall – not to mention impeachment and COVID-19 responses – Senator Cornyn is a reliable Trump ally, not an independent voice.
As Mario Carrillo, the Texas-based Campaigns Manager for America’s Voice, puts it: “I’m not sure if it’s weakness, cowardice, or hypocrisy, but Senator John Cornyn never seems to use his supposed Senate power to actually deliver on the immigration issues he claims to support. He likes to portray himself as powerful and independent, when his actual track record is one of following the party line, voting with Trump 95% of the time, and remaining complicit with the Trump immigration agenda.”