FederalImmigration & BorderIssuesCongressmen Roy, Gonzales Spar Over Claim That Border Security Bill ‘Bans Asylum’

Rep. Chip Roy filed a bill to require the Department of Homeland Security to detain asylum seekers or send them to a contiguous country.
January 16, 2023
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) responded to an assertion by Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX-23) that a border security bill Roy introduced to require the detention or expulsion of illegal immigrants would prohibit “all asylum.”

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Gonzales discussed Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20) and his concessions on policy that led to a group of Republican holdouts supporting his speakership bid and handing him the gavel.

“I’m particularly concerned with this Border Safety and Security Act. Essentially, what it does is it bans asylum — all asylum, to include legitimate asylum,” Gonzales said, referring to H.R. 29.

“I’m very concerned with that. About a year ago, there were these three little girls that the cartels abandoned on one of these fields outside of Eagle Pass. If this bill were to become law, what do you do with those little girls? Do you just throw them over the other side of the fence? I don’t think that’s the American way.”

The Texan requested clarification from Gonzales’ office regarding the provision of the bill he contends “bans asylum,” but did not hear back by the time of publication.

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Roy responded to Gonzales’ statements in a social media post, pointing to the same process that has been used for Title 42 expulsions.

“The bill (HR29) is simple… fully detain while adjudicating any claim or turn away (turn away = same as Title 42, which all [House Republicans] promoted),” Roy tweeted. “This is common sense Border security & central to ending encounter & release… ie operational control.”

The text of the bill allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to block “covered aliens” from entering the country if the secretary believes it is “necessary in order to achieve operational control” of the southern border.

However, another provision makes it mandatory for the secretary to “prohibit the entry of covered aliens” when they cannot be detained while the government determines if they have a credible fear of persecution or if they cannot be returned to a contiguous country.

It references the Immigration and Nationality Act, including the statute that reads, “In the case of an alien described in subparagraph (A) who is arriving on land (whether or not at a designated port of arrival) from a foreign territory contiguous to the United States, the Attorney General may return the alien to that territory pending a proceeding under section 1229a of this title.”

Section 1229a deals with removal of an illegal immigrant.

H.R. 29 also gives state attorneys general a cause of action “on behalf of the residents of the State” if they believe the DHS is not properly enforcing the provisions of the bill.

Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed numerous lawsuits against the Biden administration on illegal immigration, including one seeking continuation of the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for “catch and release” policies that they say are incentivizing illegal immigration.

However, skeptics of Trump-era measures like Remain in Mexico contend that removing people from the country who could have a credible fear of persecution exacerbates the humanitarian crisis.

Gonzales placed himself on the opposite end of many of his GOP colleagues, especially on border security. He called some fellow Republicans “insurgents” and suggested that border security legislation they are crafting is “anti-immigrant.”

The congressman was the lone Republican member of Texas’ congressional delegation that did not sign his name to a proposed framework offered in December. Gonzales introduced his own bill to add tens of millions of dollars in funding to a border security grant program.

A copy of H.R. 29 can be found below.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."