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Texas Republican sounds alarm on border security legislation

Congressman Tony Gonzales says H.R. 29 effectively bans all asylum claims.

TEXAS, USA — Congressman Tony Gonzales (R-San Antonio) is concerned the U.S. House could vote on controversial border security legislation as soon as this week.

Known as the “Border Safety and Security Act of 2023,” the bill would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to stop anyone from entering the country without valid entry documents. That includes those with valid asylum claims. 

Introduced by fellow Texas Republican Congressman Chip Roy of Austin, the bill also allows a state to sue DHS to enforce the requirement.

Gonzales says he’s a hard no on the legislation because he says it will, in essence, ban all asylum claims, even legal ones.

“One of the first pieces of legislation we vote on bans all asylum claims. That’s a problem,” the San Antonio Republican said on Inside Texas Politics. “While the asylum process is broken, and we need to reform it, abolishing it is a step too far.”

The “Border Safety and Security Act of 2023” is one of seven bills listed in the U.S. House rules package guaranteed to receive a vote.

And Congressman Gonzales was the only Republican to vote against that rules package, which he says he did for two reasons.

The first is because it became to clear to him that defense spending cuts were on the table after backroom deals were made with far right Republicans to clear the way for California Congressman Kevin McCarthy to become Speaker after 15 floor votes.

The second is because he says he didn’t want to see that same chaos in the House every other month, which he says has already started again with the debate over the debt ceiling.

Congressman Gonzales joined us for Inside Texas Politics only hours after the U.S. hit its borrowing limit, the debt ceiling, forcing Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to initiate what she calls “extraordinary measures” to make sure the country pays its bills the next few months.

The Republican says the worst part of this fight is still months away, June or July, when the U.S. would actually start defaulting.

“The earlier we can start the conversation the better. It’s going to be a knife fight. The debt ceiling is going to be ugly. But it’s one of these things where Congress needs to sit down and really hash these things out,” he said.

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