EXCLUSIVE: A broad coalition of border hawks and former Trump administration officials are demanding that House Republicans keep their campaign promises and “Commitment to America” by taking immediate action to pass a strong border security bill directed at ending the migrant crisis – which they say is just a first step towards needed reforms.
In a letter first obtained by Fox News Digital, the Heritage Foundation, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), America First Policy Institute, Numbers USA, and other conservative groups are calling for the GOP House majority “to immediately begin implementing the ‘Commitment to America’ and, in particular, end the Biden Border Crisis.”
“During the final months of the 117th Congress, you made an unwavering commitment to ‘Secure the Border and Combat Illegal Immigration’ and to ‘End catch-and-release loopholes,” the coalition wrote to Republican lawmakers Tuesday morning, citing the Republican agenda released by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in the days leading up to the 2022 midterm elections.
“The time for action is now,” they insist. “The 118th Congress cannot resort to the mere reallocation of resources – laws must actually be changed to close loopholes that have been weaponized by the Biden Administration. This necessarily means ending the massive abuse of our asylum system.”
Prominent officials from the Trump administration who signed the letter include President Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, former acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan, former acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tom Homan, and former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott.
The Heritage Foundation’s Mike Howell told Fox News Digital these ex-officials and conservative groups are ready to unite behind a Republican-led effort to reform the nation’s broken asylum system and end illegal immigration.
“The Biden Administration purposefully opened our borders knowing that chaos would ensue. Americans are sick of the death, the drugs, and the crime that comes with our borders being overrun. A disaster of this magnitude demands an urgent legislative response,” Howell said. “The House Majority promised to end the border crisis and the vast, vast majority of Members remain steadfast in realizing that commitment.”
READ THE COALITION LETTER BELOW. APP USERS: CLICK HERE
The groups behind the letter are lining up behind legislation introduced by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, which they say is a “commonsense” first step to secure the border. Roy’s bill, H.R. 29, the Border Safety and Security Act, would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to turn away illegal immigrants who present themselves at the border “during any period when DHS cannot detain such an individual or return the individual to a foreign country.”
H.R. 29 is designed to relieve the pressure at overwhelmed detention centers along the southern border and prevent the mass release of migrants into the United States. There were more than 2 million total migrants encountered at the southern border in FY 2022, an all-time record high, and over 700,000 migrants were encountered at the border in the first three months of FY 2023, according to CBP. In December alone, CBP encountered 251,487 persons attempting to enter the U.S. along the Southwest border, a 40% increase over the number encountered that month for the previous year.
“Every Texas delegation member except one signed on to the Texas Border plan – member except one signed don to the Texas border plan – which includes language requiring the Secretary detain or turn away rather than encounter and release – because they know that continuing the policy of release is a continuation of cartel empowerment, migrant abuse, and endangerment of Texans,” Roy told Fox News Digital.
However, some Republican lawmakers have criticized his bill. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, has said H.R 29 would effectively “ban legitimate asylum claims” and has called the bill “not Christian” and “anti-American.” Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., a moderate Republican, has pushed for H.R. 29 to go back to the Homeland Security Committee for revisions, resisting calls from the Heritage Foundation and others to fast-track the bill for a vote on the House floor. Additionally, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., who supports immigration reform, told the Washington Post she would not vote for the bill.
With their narrow House majority, Republicans can only afford to lose a handful of votes if they hope to move any legislation through the House. The coalition groups view failure to pass border security legislation this year as a betrayal of the “Commitment to America” agenda that every Republican, including those opposed to the Border Safety and Security Act, endorsed.
“Through their bold ‘Commitment to America,’ House Republicans promised that they would address the border crisis once in control, including a handful of members who are now opposing a narrow, commonsense border security bill,” said R.J. Hauman, head of government relations and communications for FAIR. “Our ask for the members in opposition is clear: Be a team player and deliver on a clear, conference-wide campaign promise. Work together to address the border crisis, don’t become an accomplice.”
Fox News Digital has reached out to the offices of Reps. Gonzales, Bacon and Salazar for comment.