WASHINGTON, D.C.—Republicans in the House of Representatives voted Thursday to pass HR 2, a massive border bill. Many of them who represent states far removed geographically from the border told The Daily Signal how the crisis is impacting their states.
“We have had a rash of fentanyl overdoses in the 3rd Congressional District in the state of Wisconsin,” Rep. Derrick Van Orden told The Daily Signal at the U.S. Capitol Thursday, referring to the district he represents in Congress.
“In rural Wisconsin, we’re having people die of fentanyl overdoses, and it’s happening all the time and it’s tragic,” he added. “That’s an in-your-face testament to Joe Biden’s [Homeland Security] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas—really, the Democrat Party writ large, especially over in the Senate with [Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer, just not caring about these things. I don’t know how else you can describe that.”
“If you could stop 90% of the fentanyl coming in over the southern border, why wouldn’t you? Because it’s killing our brothers and sisters and mothers and cousins and aunts and uncles,” Van Orden said.
He argued that HR 2 will address the fentanyl crisis and urged Senate Democrats and President Joe Biden to support it. He said, “Chuck Schumer needs to do his damn job, and Joe Biden needs to do his damn job, too. We’re doing ours.”
Rep. Barry Moore, R-Ala., described how the border crisis impacts Alabama.
“Well, we seized enough fentanyl a few months ago in Birmingham to kill every man, woman, and child in Alabama,” he told The Daily Signal. “So, although you may be a border town, this is a crisis for the entire country as this fentanyl pours in. It’s the No. 1 killer now in people between ages of 18 to 45.” (Some experts dispute this claim, which traces back to Families Against Fentanyl’s report on 2020 deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has neither confirmed nor denied it.)
“As we see these people, 5 million encounters—that’s my state’s entire population—have been contacted coming across the U.S. southern border. That doesn’t count the ones that got away,” Moore added. “So, we basically displaced my entire state’s population.”
Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., cited the Foundation for American Immigration Reform’s estimate that at the end of 2022, there were “400,000 illegal aliens in Virginia, costing an average of $5,000 approximately per alien for Virginians to support them.”
“We’ve had murders in my own community where I live—in my district in Virginia—from illegal aliens who are here—MS-13 gang members,” he added.
He predicted an even larger number following the end of Title 42, a pandemic-era measure that enabled Border Patrol to deport illegal aliens in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
“Now you’ve got the cessation of Title 42, which is going to, by most estimates, double the invasion,” Good said. “Right now, we’ve got 10,000 a day coming. It’s estimated [to reach] maybe as many as 20,000 a day. This president is on track for some 15, 20 [million] illegals to invade the country during his time in office. And so far, we’ve had 5.5 million that have been released in the country essentially because of these policies.”
Good warned that some migrants may not be searching for a better life but for an opportunity to attack the United States. “We found a hundred on the terrorist watch list,” he said. “How many did it take to perpetrate 9/11?”
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 with The Daily Signal. I’m here with Congressman Derrick Van Orden from Wisconsin. Why would you say the border bill that the House is about to vote on is monumental, is important? What should Americans be looking for?
Rep. Derrick Van Orden: Well, what the American public is—they’re not just looking for it, they’re seeing leadership coming out of the House of Representatives. That’s what’s taking place. [House Speaker] Kevin McCarthy’s done a great job leading our conference here, and this is the strongest border security bill that has really ever been passed.
We were talking a little bit about some statistics here, over 26,000 illegal immigrants have been encountered in the last 72 hours. Highest number in history. Over a hundred thousand American citizens have died of fentanyl overdose since [President] Joe Biden has taken watch. It’s a leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45.
That’s completely unacceptable and mostly preventable because we know 90% of that fentanyl is coming over the southern border. We know that because we’re using Joe Biden’s statistics, not ours, that is not a Republican talking point. We’re spending $50 million a year to store the materials that have already been purchased by the American taxpayers to finish the border wall.
So, line item No. 1 on this, finish the border wall. We don’t have to make a trip to Home Depot to pick up anything. It’s already sitting there out in the deserts. I’ve been to the El Paso and the Tucson Sector of the border. That means I’ve been there twice, which is twice as many times as the president of the United States, and twice as many times as the border czar, [Vice President] Kamala Harris, who we discussed earlier should not get an F; she should get an I, an incomplete, because she has done absolutely nothing to help secure the border.
O’Neil: How does this crisis impact voters and constituents in Wisconsin?
Van Orden: We have had a rash of fentanyl overdoses in the 3rd Congressional District in the state of Wisconsin. In rural Wisconsin, we’re having people die of fentanyl overdoses, and it’s happening all the time and it’s tragic.
That’s an in-your-face testament to Joe Biden’s [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas—really, the Democrat Party writ large, especially over in the Senate with [Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer, just not caring about these things. I don’t know how else you can describe that.
If you could stop 90% of the fentanyl coming in over the southern border, why wouldn’t you? Because it’s killing our brothers and sisters and mothers and cousins and aunts and uncles. It’s just shocking to me. Sometimes I’m apoplectic, I just don’t know what to say about how irresponsible the Biden administration’s border policies are.
O’Neil: How would this bill impact the fentanyl crisis in particular?
Van Orden: Build the wall, secure the border, make sure the Border Patrol is funded. Give those guys and gals bonuses, because they’re working as hard as they possibly can. Allow them to have other people do the processing [of the paperwork of illegal immigrants] so they can actually stop the folks interdicted, people entering the border, and then not have to spend the rest of their day sitting on a computer typing. Those are big ones. Those are huge right there.
O’Neil: And this bill would require fewer illegals to be processed?
Van Orden: This bill is going to build the wall. We got to finish building the wall, making sure we have enough agents, making sure the agents have what they need so that they can do their job in an effective manner. It’s a good thing.
I am very disappointed in the messaging that’s coming out of the White House and Chuck Schumer’s Senate. So, the House of Representatives have been doing our job. We’ve got the debt ceiling through, passing a border bill today, and now it’s incumbent on Chuck Schumer to do his job. And it’s up to the Biden administration to do their job.
Sign these into law, stop this fearmongering about the debt ceiling. Stop the fearmongering about—they’re lying about taking veterans benefits and all this stuff. They’re just lying about this. So Chuck Schumer needs to do his damn job, and Joe Biden needs to do his damn job, too. We’re doing ours.
Tyler O’Neil: This is Tyler O’Neil, managing editor at The Daily Signal. I have Rep. Barry Moore from Alabama. Great to have you with us.
Rep. Barry Moore: Thank you, Tyler. Good to be here.
O’Neil: So can you tell us a little bit about how this bill, how the border crisis impacts Alabama, and what really leads you to support this bill?
Moore: Yeah. Well, we seized enough fentanyl a few months ago in Birmingham to kill every man, woman, and child in Alabama. So, although you may be a border town, this is a crisis for the entire country as this fentanyl pours in. It’s the No. 1 killer now in people between ages of 18 to 45. And so, it’s not just those border towns, like I said, and it’s going to continue to impact us.
As we see these people, 5 million encounters—that’s my state’s entire population—have been contacted coming across the U.S. southern border. That doesn’t count the ones that got away. So, we basically displaced my entire state’s population.
So, you have people who are coming here are going to need health care, they’re going to need education, they’re going to need food. We were giving them cellphones until we ran out. So, my concern now is, how do we support these people who are not paying into the system? They bypassed everybody who was waiting in line. And so, it is a crisis truly for the entire country, but it does impact our state.
O’Neil: And how would you respond to some groups on the Left that frame the issue as not caring for the marginalized, the poor? How would you address that attack that you might hear from the Southern Poverty Law Center?
Moore: So, my concern is, what about the 85,000 children that our government has lost? We brought them in here, unaccompanied minors, and they came here looking for the American dream. And somewhere, they’re in a sweatshop or they’re being sex trafficked. Who knows? We’ve sent them to God-knows-where for God-knows-what.
And the people that are supposed to be their trustees or the people that are supposed to be in charge of them, in many cases, we’re not background checking those people. They give us a Google address, we ship these children to those people, and we’ve lost 85,000 of them. To me—does that sound like compassion to you?
O’Neil: No. Yeah. And what is the most impactful part of this bill that you can think of?
Moore: So, I think that where we start saying, “We’re going to detain you and return you,” that lets people know, “Stop coming here. There’s no longer a free ride.”
In Yuma, Arizona—I sat on the Judiciary Committee and I’m a member of the immigration committee and the subcommittee—in Yuma, Arizona, we talked about people from 106 different countries that have come just through that sector. And so, it’s very important now that the American people know that we’ve got people coming here who may not be just seeking asylum—they’d be seeking to do us harm.
And so, it’s very important we get the word out: We got to shut this border down and do what we can. And I think that when you tell them, “Hey, if you come here, we’re going to detain you and return you rather than give you a cellphone, $800 a month in subsidies, and a future court date,” I think it’s a deterrent.
Tyler O’Neil: This is Tyler O’Neil, managing editor at The Daily Signal. I’m joined by Rep. Bob Good of Virginia. How are you this afternoon?
Rep. Bob Good: Doing great, Tyler. Thanks for having me.
O’Neil: Hey, my pleasure. So I’d like to hear how the border crisis is impacting Virginia and why you are excited and supportive of this bill as a result?
Good: Well, Virginia in 2023 was estimated to have 400,000 illegal aliens in Virginia, costing an average of $5,000 approximately per alien for Virginians to support them. And now, you’ve got the cessation of Title 42, which is going to, by most estimates, double the invasion.
Right now, we’ve got 10,000 a day coming. It’s estimated maybe as many as 20,000 a day. This president is on track for some 15, 20 [million] illegals to invade the country during his time in office. And so far, we’ve had 5.5 million that have been released in the country essentially because of these policies. Well, what about the 1.5 million [gotaways who weren’t caught] that don’t want the free health care, free social services, free education, free travel, free housing? That’s provided by our generous administration to illegals.
What about the 1.5 million that don’t want those because of what they’re tracking in the country or what their terrorist or criminal ties are? We found a hundred on the terrorist watch list. Out of the 5.5 million, how many might be in that 1.5 million? How many did it take to perpetrate 9/11? If only 1% of the 1.5 million criminal gotaways are bad actors, that would be 15,000. I bet you, neither you or anyone else that we know would take a bet at 99% of the criminal gotaways are good folks here for just productive reasons.
O’Neil: So the bill also expands the number of crimes that would … or the type of crimes that would disqualify someone for asylum. Would that have a big impact in Virginia and would that address a lot of the problems that you’re talking about?
Good: Yeah, this—an open border—obviously contributes to the crime crisis in the country, which has grown massively under this administration. Violent crimes—up some 30% across the country. There’s crimes being committed at the border. There’s crimes being committed by illegals.
We’ve had murders in my own community where I live, in my district in Virginia, from illegal aliens who are here—MS-13 gang members. So, you’ve got the crime issue. Again, you’ve got the health care—the tax on our health care services, on our education services, on our social services.
So, this is a comprehensive border bill. It is border security bill. It’s the strongest bill that’s ever come out of the House. It’s better than Goodlatte 1 and Goodlatte 2 that we couldn’t get out of the House, what, 10 years ago with a larger Republican majority than what we had here. So, a significant accomplishment by this leadership team and by the Republican majority to get this bill passed.
O’Neil: Great. Well, thank you so much for speaking with me, Rep. Good.
Good: Thank you, Tyler. Great to be with you.
Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.