Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) says he is concerned about parts of the Senate Immigration Bill. The bill sponsored by Senator Menendez (D-NY) follows closely with Biden’s fact sheet and Executive Order for immigration reform. Gonzalez says that, as it stands now, there needs to be a “safer solution to deal with asylum seekers,” saying some of the reforms will be “catastrophic” for his state and his district. He worries about the thousands of asylum seekers who now feel they have been given the green light to come to the U.S. across the southern border.
Under the new bill, UncoverDC reported in February that work permits alone would effectively give about four million illegal immigrants an expedited path to citizenship. It is also expected that the reforms would open the floodgates for between 11 to 22 million new illegal immigrants in the United States. Dr. Peter Navarro also just published his comprehensive, data-driven report on illegal immigration at the southern border, also reported by UncoverDC.
I never said Biden’s immigration plan was catastrophic. I like most of the plan. Releasing migrants into border communities that have been ravaged by COVID-19 would incentivize more arrivals in the middle of a pandemic. It sends the wrong message which could be catastrophic. 1/2
— Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (@RepGonzalez) March 2, 2021
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, illegal crossings along the southern border are up 100 percent since the inauguration. In January alone, “nearly 78,323 migrants entered along the border, the highest for that month in a decade.” Gonzalez is worried that the increase in numbers, in concert with the ongoing pandemic, puts the migrants and the communities along the border at increased risk. He says that many of those asylum seekers have not yet been vaccinated.
In fact, on March 2, Noticias Telemundo Investiga reported that since officials in Brownsville, Texas, started administering Rapid Covid on Jan. 25, “108 migrants have tested positive for Covid-19, which is 6.3 percent of those who took the test.” A spokesperson for the city wrote an email saying that “Brownsville does not have the authority to retain these migrants who plan to travel to dozens of cities throughout the country.”
A March 2 video report by Sandra Sanchez in Brownsville shows hundreds of migrants at the local bus station waiting to travel to other parts of the U.S. In addition, a Brownsville City Commission Zoom meeting on Feb. 2 shows council members discussing the influx of immigrants and the associated burden being placed on their transit services as they strategize to keep the public safe from the Covid-19 virus.
Gonzalez, who took office in 2017 as the representative of Texas’ 15th District, seems to indicate that the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or the “remain in Mexico program,” was a better protocol for protecting migrants. The program ordered individuals to remain in Mexico while they awaited court proceedings. Biden’s Department of Homeland Security ended the remain in Mexico program following Biden’s inauguration, as reported by UncoverDC on Feb. 18.
In an interview on Mar. 1, Gonzalez told CNN that he believes the U.S. should “have a better plan in place. I think asylum-seekers should be able to ask for asylum and be processed in their home country or a neighboring country, and we shouldn’t have a policy in place that impulses people to make this 2,000-mile trek where cartels and human traffickers are enriching themselves.”
Gonzalez is concerned for the migrants, but he also worries about his own community,
“The fact is that my heart goes out to everyone. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, but for thousands of people to be reaching our border in the middle of a pandemic in a disorderly fashion would be catastrophic to my district,” Gonzalez outlined. “I have lost over 3,000 citizens to COVID in my southern border district. I still have over a thousand border patrol officers, 500 custom agents, and a lot of front-line workers who still haven’t been vaccinated who are dealing with this population when they’re coming. We need to have a humane, compassionate way for people to ask for asylum in their home countries or their neighboring countries. And if they get the document, they can get on a plane for $400 and fly in. I think this policy forces them to make a 2,000-mile walk that is very dangerous, and they’re getting raped and pillaged along the way.”