‘This is exactly what we need. We need the American people to start speaking out … making a demand on the Biden administration to enforce the laws.’
Participants in a trucker protest dubbed the “Take Our Border Back Convoy” earned praise from Rep. Keith Self (R-Texas) on Friday for their efforts to pressure the federal government to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.
“This is exactly what we need. We need the American people to start speaking out. We need them to start rallying, making a demand on the Biden administration to enforce the laws as they swore to do,” Mr. Self told NTD’s “Capitol Report” on Friday.
The East Coast wing of the vehicle protest departed from Virginia Beach on Monday, making stops in Jacksonville, Florida, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this week before arriving in Dripping Springs, Texas, for a rally on Thursday evening, featuring a performance of the national anthem by rocker Ted Nugent and a speech by former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The East Coast convoy continued on Friday to the Texas border town of Quemado.
A separate West Coast wing of the vehicle protest departed Dripping Springs on Thursday morning, stopping in Las Cruces, New Mexico, about an hour’s drive from the U.S. southern border. That same convoy continued on to Yuma, Arizona on Friday for another stop along the U.S.–Mexico border.
The event organizers have planned additional rallies in Yuma and San Diego, California, on Saturday.
Mr. Self said he’s hopeful these protest events will continue to grow and evolve.
“I think it’s going to be larger than you saw in Dripping Springs,” on Thursday, he said.
Texas Republicans Encourage Governor’s Standoff With Feds
The “Take Our Border Back Convoy” comes amid an ongoing standoff between the Texas state government and federal border officials over efforts to secure the border.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has for months deployed the Texas National Guard and other state resources to block off sections of Texas’s border with Mexico that sit between the authorized ports of entry, but which have few physical barriers to protect against people sneaking into the country. Mr. Abbott’s efforts have seen Texas officials and Guardsmen deploy various types of barriers, including razor wire, along the Rio Grande to prevent such illicit border crossings, but President Joe Biden’s administration has challenged these efforts in court.
Mr. Self is among many Republicans cheering Mr. Abbott’s efforts to keep blocking against border crossings.
Rep. Tony Gonzalez (R-Texas) was the only Republican member of the Texas delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives who did not sign on.
Several Republican governors have pledged to support Mr. Abbott’s efforts, sending supplies and deploying their own state law enforcement officers and National Guard troops to assist the effort.
Republicans Doubtful on Border Deal
The current congressional debate on border security began when President Biden submitted a $106 billion supplemental spending request that tied around $14 billion in funding to hire new immigration and border personnel to other spending priorities for his administration, including around $60 billion in new U.S. support for Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia.
Republicans rejected the border and immigration spending proposals in President Biden’s supplemental request, and have urged the administration to instead restart construction for a wall along the southern border and adopt policies restricting when people arriving at the border can claim asylum and when they can be temporarily released into the United States.
Negotiations on this border proposal have largely played out in the U.S. Senate. While the Senate has yet to release the actual language of a tentative border agreement, some purported aspects of the agreement have leaked, and many congressional Republicans haven’t liked what they’ve seen.
One purported aspect of the Senate deal allows for U.S. border officials to close down the border if they encounter a daily average of 5,000 people across the span of a week. Critics of that proposal say that it would essentially allow up to 1.8 million people to come to the U.S. border and potentially be allowed into the country each year. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), the lead Republican negotiator on the Senate deal, has insisted this portion of the tentative deal has been widely misunderstood.
In an interview with Fox News this past weekend, Mr. Lankford said his critics are interpreting that 5,000 daily figure in the context of the Biden administration’s policies of releasing people into the United States through parole programs. He said the 5,000 figure instead represents the number of people that U.S. border officials should be able to detain and process for removal.
“We’re focused on how many people can we process quickly and then deport out of the country, not release into the country,” Mr. Lankford told Fox News.
Still, many Republicans are continuing to cast doubt on the Senate deal. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has said if the rumors about the Senate deal are true, it would be dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House.
“We haven’t seen the text of the bill, all we have is leaked information. So while it may not be exactly right, I believe it’s fairly accurate,” Mr. Self said. “So yes, when you say that it allows 1.8 million illegal immigrants into the country every year, that is a non-starter. That is a hard no.”
Self: ‘No Confidence’ Biden Will Act on Border Security
President Biden has suggested he could shut down the border immediately but needs Congress to act by passing the deal being discussed in the Senate.
Some members in the Biden administration have suggested Republicans are simply playing politics rather than negotiating in good faith on a border deal. Ms. Jean-Pierre said this week that President Biden has repeatedly tried to reach a deal on border and immigration reform, but Republicans have simply refused to deal.
“House Republicans have a choice to make: They can keep playing politics or they can work in a bipartisan way to secure the border,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday. “Sadly, this is not new. For years, they have refused to heed the president’s requests for action on much-needed funding for border security.”
But Mr. Self said congressional Republicans have reason to doubt the president’s claims.
“I have absolutely no confidence that when President Biden says if we sign this deal, he will close the border. He will not,” Mr. Self said. “The policy of the Biden administration is an open border. That’s what Congress is wrestling with.”
Mr. Self said Republicans in Congress are trying to determine how to change the overall behavior of the administration when it comes to border security.
“It’s not more money. It’s not more policy. It’s not more law,” he said. “How do we change behavior?”