WASHINGTON, D.C.—Reps. John Rutherford, R-Fla., and Tom McClintock, R-Calif., celebrated the passage of a Republican bill to secure the U.S.-Mexico border as Title 42 was set to expire on Thursday, explaining how the bill addresses the border crisis and warning that if the crisis isn’t solved, “This is going to get more people murdered.”
The bill passed, 219-213, with every single Democrat voting against it, and all but two Republicans—Reps. John Duarte of California and Thomas Massie of Kentucky—supporting it.
Rutherford noted that President Joe Biden admitted that the border would be “chaotic for a while” and that Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said the U.S. does not have “operational control” over the border. “That is a recipe to get more and more American citizens like Mr. [Francisco Javier] Cuellar in my district [killed]. This is going to get more people murdered,” the Florida lawmaker told “The Daily Signal Podcast” at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday.
Rutherford shared the story of Cuellar, a 46-year-old man who welcomed 25-year-old Yery Noel Medina Ulloa from Honduras into his Jacksonville, Florida, home. Ulloa had given immigration authorities a fake name and a fake date of birth, convincing them that he was a minor. Uolla also told them to call Cuellar, who vouched for Ulloa and took him in. Ulloa stabbed Cuellar to death in 2021. He pleaded guilty to murder charges and was sentenced to 60 years in prison in March.
“He came across the border, [Customs and Border Protection] can’t determine who he is, so they turn him over to [the Department of Health and Human Services]. HHS makes the call to Mr. Cuellar, they fly him to Jacksonville. Two months later, [Ulloa] kills Mr. Cuellar,” the congressman said.
“My issue with all of this is, No. 1, the border’s open, and these folks are coming across,” Rutherford added. “HR 2 will secure the border by building a wall.”
He insisted the wall is an “impediment,” rather than a “barrier.” As illegal immigrants breach it, Border Patrol will have technology to alert it to the breach and staffing to go take the illegal immigrants into custody. The bill provides the wall, the technology, the staff, and 22,000 CBP officers.
McClintock, the California representative and one of the bill’s co-authors, also celebrated the bill’s passage. He noted that the House failed to pass a similar bill in 2014 when Republicans had a larger majority, and praised House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for shepherding the bill to passage.
“What really got it across the finish line was, we have a leadership today that is willing to stick at it until it’s done,” McClintock said. “We didn’t have that under [former House Speakers Paul] Ryan or [John] Boehner. We have that under Kevin McCarthy.”
He argued that the bill removes the “perverse incentives” driving illegal immigration by providing real teeth to enforce existing law, enabling Border Patrol to remove illegal aliens and raising the bar for asylum claims.
McClintock condemned Democrats in the Senate who say they will not bring the bill to a vote. He pinned the blame for the immigration crisis on the other party.
“If you voted for Joe Biden and the Democrats in the last election, this is exactly what you voted for, and if you’re surprised by this, you weren’t paying any attention,” he said. He warned that the crisis “will continue until the people responsible for these policies are turned out of office.”
“This is not an accident. It’s not incompetence. This is a deliberate policy of the Left,” McClintock argued. “I think the Left has lost the support of the American people, and they view their best chance of remaining in power by bringing in millions of people who are dependent and impoverished and desperate.”
He warned that Border Patrol “simply cannot process” the “vast, vast numbers” of illegal immigrants about to cross the border. “I’m seeing [600,000] to 700,000 illegal migrants already waiting in Mexico to bum-rush the border.”
The Daily Signal’s Mary Margaret Olohan and Tim Kennedy are at the border in El Paso, Texas, covering the expiration of Title 42 live. Follow them on Twitter and return to The Daily Signal for updates.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Tyler O’Neil: This is Tyler O’Neil, managing editor at The Daily Signal. I’m joined by Rep. Tom McClintock. Great to have you here.
Rep. Tom McClintock: It’s great to be here, Tyler, thanks for having me.
O’Neil: So can you tell me a bit about this important border security bill that I believe you co-wrote and focuses on building the border wall, closing a lot of loopholes, really addressing the crisis?
McClintock: At its basic level, it restores the successful Trump-era policies that had secured our border.
On Inauguration Day, we had a secure border. The Trump “Remain in Mexico” policies had slowed illegal immigration to a trickle. The border wall was nearing completion. [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] was actually enforcing court-ordered deportations.
By the afternoon of Inauguration Day, [President] Joe Biden had reversed all of those policies. And the result is an illegal mass migration on a scale the world has never seen and no civilization has ever survived.
O’Neil: So what specifically does the bill do to address the crisis? And I believe there are important changes to the law about asylum rules?
McClintock: First and foremost, it removes the incentives that are driving this illegal migration.
If you make a phony asylum claim under this administration, you immediately received automatic admission into our country. You get lots of free stuff, including a ticket anywhere you want to go in the country. You get indefinite residency, you get indefinite work authorization.
And when your phony claim is rejected by the courts years and years from now, you can be reasonably sure you can stay anyway because court-ordered deportations are not being enforced.
So why wouldn’t anybody come? Well, what this bill does is to remove those perverse incentives. It still allows you to file an asylum claim, but then it enforces the current existing law that says that you can’t be released in the United States. You either have to be detained in the United States or you can await the outcome of your case in Mexico or any other safe third country.
O’Neil: And it changes the law to enable [the Department of Homeland Security] to send illegals to another country.
McClintock: And it’s very important, particularly with all of the child trafficking that the cartels are now doing.
Right now, if an unaccompanied alien child comes from Mexico or Canada, we get them safely home, we should. From any other country, this administration doesn’t lift their finger to return them safely home. Instead, it sends them to very poorly vetted, so-called sponsors where a lot of them are exploited sexually or in labor exploitation, or we simply lose track of them.
Eighty-five thousand alien children we have trafficked into our own country, by our government, have been lost by our government. We don’t know where they are, what’s happened to them.
So what this measure does is it says, just as we already do for children from Mexico and Canada, we are going to get the children from other countries also safely home.
If you want to stop the human trafficking, that’s how you do it. The cartels don’t give refunds. And the moment we start returning these children to their own homes, the cartel’s business dries up.
O’Neil: And you helped write the bill that, it seems, is about to pass the House. How did you craft legislation? Because I remember, over 10 years ago now, I think it was, when the Republican House was trying to address immigration issues and they couldn’t actually pass a bill.
O’Neil: So this is a marked step forward.
McClintock: Yes, it is.
O’Neil: How does this bill differ from those efforts and what really got it across the finish line?
McClintock: Well, what really got it across the finish line was we have a leadership today that is willing to stick at it until it’s done. We didn’t have that under [former House Speakers Paul] Ryan or [John] Boehner. We have that under [House Speaker] Kevin McCarthy. It’s his leadership that pulled everybody together, kept everybody talking until we’d hammered out a compromise.
And that’s the foundation of all of this. The bill is not that much different from the legislation that failed when the Republicans had a House majority several years ago. The difference is we have much better leadership today.
O’Neil: And would you say that leadership is the reason the debt ceiling bill also passed?
McClintock: Yes. Absolutely.
O’Neil: And what would you say to the Democrats in the Senate who seem not interested in taking up the bill and President Biden? You said he would veto it.
McClintock: Well, you’re talking about the debt limit bill?
O’Neil: This bill.
McClintock: Oh, the immigration bill?
McClintock: Well, obviously, there’s not much I can say to the Senate to convince them, that’s going to be up to their constituencies to convince them. And that I’m afraid is what it’s going to come down to. The American people are going to have to choose whether or not they want to continue down this road.
A country without immigration laws is a country without borders. If we have no borders, then we have no country. We’re simply a vast international territory between Canada and Mexico. Is this what Americans want for their country?
That’s a question ultimately up to them. And they’re going to have to answer it.
When people ask me, “Well, how could this be happening to our country?” The answer’s very simple. If you voted for Joe Biden and the Democrats in the last election, this is exactly what you voted for. And if you’re surprised by this, you weren’t paying any attention.
And when people say, “Well, how much longer can it go on?” The answer’s also very simple. It will continue until the people responsible for these policies are turned out of office. As I said, this is not an accident. It’s not incompetence. This is a deliberate policy of the Left. And it’s up to the American people to step in and say, “We have had enough and we’ll go no farther.”
O’Neil: And why do you say it’s a deliberate policy in which we’ve talked about the Left benefiting from having a larger voting base that’s dependent upon government—
McClintock: I think the Left has lost the support of the American people and they view their best chance of remaining in power by bringing in millions of people who are dependent and impoverished and desperate.
O’Neil: And we’ve seen the Biden administration work hand-in-glove with some nonprofits that essentially encourage and streamline this illegal immigration.
McClintock: No, aid and abet. And reward and encourage, yes. And that’s one thing that the Border Patrol keeps expressing frustration over, is the fact the cartels are paid thousands and thousands of dollars to traffic these human beings. And when they are brought to the border, the American government takes over and finishes the transaction for them at taxpayer expense.
But what we’re now going to see, I think, is the entire system collapsing. I’m very concerned that the Border Patrol simply cannot process under Title 8 these vast, vast numbers we’re seeing. I’m seeing 600,000 to 700,000 illegal migrants already waiting in Mexico to bum-rush the border. My guess is, in fact, I’ve seen an executive order, that the Border Patrol’s essentially supposed to step out of the way and let them in.
Well, I wonder what’s going to happen when many of these border towns are suddenly inundated with tens of thousands of desperate and dependent people who, by the way, have been promised free stuff, free food, free care, free stuff. What’s going to happen over the next few days? Unfortunately, we’re about to find out.
O’Neil: Well, thank you so much for speaking with me.
McClintock: My pleasure.
Tyler O’Neil: This is Tyler O’Neil with The Daily Signal. I’m here with Congressman John Rutherford of Florida. Would you speak a little bit about the border crisis and how important this bill is to addressing it?
Rep. John Rutherford: Yeah. Listen, Tyler, I think when you listen to the president just today talk about the chaos of the border, if you listen to [Border Patrol] Chief Raul Ortiz, who is a fantastic law enforcement officer, he said, “We don’t have operational control of the border.”
And just within the last year, we had a situation in Jacksonville, Florida. A gentleman comes across the border, claims to be a juvenile. So he uses a fake name, fake ID—or fake date of birth, not ID, he didn’t have any ID, which is part of the problem. And so he’s got no ID.
They don’t know who he is, but they ask him—well, because he falls under catch and release. So they ask him, “Well, do you have any family members in the United States?” He’s like, “Oh yeah, my Uncle Cuellar lives in Jacksonville, Florida.” So they call him. Of course, he says, “Yeah, that’s my nephew,” but he knows it’s not because this is all set up before he ever came to the border.
So Mr.—he used the name Fernandez, his real name is Yery Noel Ulloa. He’s also 23, not 17. He came across the border.
[Customs and Border Protection] can’t determine who he is, so they turned him over to [the Department of Health and Human Services]. HHS makes the call to Mr. Cuellar, they fly him to Jacksonville. Two weeks later or two months later, he kills Mr. Cuellar.
And so my issue with all of this is, No. 1, the border’s open and these folks are coming across. HR 2 will secure the border by building a wall. And I make this point to everyone. Look, the wall is not a barrier, it’s an impediment. I get that. I can build a 12-foot wall, you can build a 13-foot ladder, right? OK.
So it’s not built to be a barrier. It’s built to be an impediment, so that as you’re breaching it, I have technology there, which this bill provides, I have technology there that tells me you’re breaching that wall. Then I have to send staffing to take you into custody. I can’t do that with a drone. I got to send people. This bill provides that staffing, 22,000 CBP officers just for enforcement, no processing.
And so then we also build access roads. You know how much of our border does not have access roads and is actually patrolled on horseback? So it’s an impossible situation. This bill will secure that border and stop the situations that we had with Mr. Ulloa who killed one of my constituents.
O’Neil: And the bill also deals with visa overstays and a few other important issues like that.
Rutherford: Yes. Look, we’ve got to start deporting these folks again when they get their deportation orders.
Now, [CBP] acting Commissioner Troy Miller told us that they don’t have the resources to repatriate these folks. Well, wait a minute. If you don’t have the resources to repatriate them going south, how is it you’ve got the resources that send them north into the interior of the country? Don’t tell me that. Just turn the plane around. Go the other way.
O’Neil: What message would you send to President Biden and to the Democrats in the Senate, who it sounds are probably not going to consider this bill?
Rutherford: Listen, we have to get operational control of the border. Everybody knows it. The president even admitted today that it’s chaos, that we don’t have operational control. As Chief Ortiz also said, that is a recipe to get more and more American citizens, like Mr. Cuellar in my district, this is going to get more people murdered. It’s got to stop.
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