McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A Republican congressional delegation of 10 House members, including GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, toured the South Texas border on Monday and from the banks of the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass urged the Biden administration not to repeal Title 42 next month.
Their tour came the same day that the Texas Military Department announced it had recovered the body of Texas National Guard Specialist Bishop E. Evans, who went missing and drowned Friday in Eagle Pass after jumping into the river to assist migrants who appeared to be in trouble.
“It’s a gloomy day here in Eagle Pass,” U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Texas Republican who represents this border region, told media. “Earlier today Border Patrol were able to recover the body of Specialist Evans and it just feels like a gloomy, sad day.”
“It’s heartbreaking that a young man lost his life,” U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee said. “This is a tragedy. A sovereign nation has borders. And I want Border Patrol and all law enforcement in Texas to know that we’re going to do whatever we can to help stop this and it starts in November.”
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, joined the tour Monday after testifying in court in Atlanta in an administrative hearing on a challenge brought by a group of voters seeking to block her from the ballot based on a post-Civil War era policy about keeping insurrectionists from elected office. Taylor was an organizer of the Jan. 6 events in Washington, D.C.
She was the seventh representative to address the media and said, “This isn’t about political parties and it shouldn’t be nothing about politics. This should be about securing the United States border, respecting our laws, respecting the families who live right here on our border.”
“Our president is the greatest business partner to the cartels because everything he is doing is enriching them,” she said.
The group met with ranchers and community leaders from Del Rio to Eagle Pass, as well as law enforcement and Border Patrol agents and National Guard troops stationed along the banks.
The Republicans repeatedly criticized President Joe Biden, and mentioned the fall elections as a way to galvanize public disapproval for the historic surge of migrants crossing from Mexico along the Southwest border this past year.
So far in Fiscal Year 2022, which began in October, there have been over 1 million encounters with migrants at Southwest land borders.
House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, of New York, called it a “crisis from Joe Biden’s failed policies.”
Leader McCarthy said law enforcement are expecting 18,000 will try to cross when Title 42 is lifted on May 23.
McCarthy repeatedly called on his Democratic colleagues to join with Republicans and sign a discharge petition that would force a vote on the House floor to keep Title 42 in place. Title 42 is a 1940s public health law that was re-enacted in March 2020 by the Trump administration to stop the spread of coronavirus across the border.
The discharge petition was filed by U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, of Texas, who was part of Monday’s tour.
Roy tweeted they have 180 signatures and if 218 members get on board they can force Title 42 to a floor vote “which means we turn folks back to Mexico under health laws.”
But Monday he admitted that Title 42 is not the right policy to reform immigration practices on the border, but he says keeping it in place will help to hold back the masses from crossing.
“Title 42 is a band aid on a gunshot wound. It’s not actual border security,” Roy said. “We have got to do the hard work and have a sovereign nation.”
McCarthy repeatedly thanked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for spending billions of dollars of Texas money to secure the border and for activating Operation Lone Star, under which 10,000 National Guard troops have been surged to the border region since March 2021.
Roy mentioned Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ scheduled testimony on Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee, of which Roy is a member.
GOP leaders have sent Mayorkas detailed questions they want answered during Thursday’s hearing, which is titled “Oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.” Several have criticized past performances by Mayorkas who has been scant on details during hearings.
McCarthy on his Facebook page posted a letter he signed that was sent on Monday to Mayorkas detailing several questions the secretary should be expected to answer.
Questions include information on the Migrant Protection Protocols Program, also known as “Remain in Mexico” policy, which the Biden administration was forced to reinstate due to a court order; continuation of a border wall along the Southwest border; and keeping title 42 in place.
“We call on you to immediately take all legal and necessary actions at your disposal — of which there are many — to secure the southern border, rectify the dangerous policies this administration has put in motion over the past year, and bring your agency into compliance with the laws passed by the United States Congress,” reads the letter that was also sent from U.S. Reps. Brian Babin, of Texas, co-chairman of the House Border Security Caucus; Jim Banks, of Indiana; Republican Whip Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, and Stefanik.
Mayorkas is scheduled to testify at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday.