“My reaction to this video is visceral,” former homeland security official Mark Morgan said after watching Elisa and Emilio Tambunga tell their story in a video report by The Daily Signal.
“I’m angry,” Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection during the Trump administration, told The Daily Signal after watching the video report on the Tambungas, first published Monday. “This shouldn’t happen in this country.”
Elisa Tambunga lost her mother Maria and 7-year-old daughter Emilia in a high-speed crash in March that was caused by a human smuggler.
The smuggler, Rassian Comer, had 11 illegal aliens in a vehicle and was evading police when he ran a red light and crashed into the truck occupied by the grandmother and granddaughter. The two were pronounced dead at the scene in Ozona, Texas.
Morgan is now a visiting fellow in the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation, which is the parent organization of The Daily Signal.
“We can prevent this,” Morgan said, addressing the camera in a new Daily Signal video released Thursday. “There’s a lot of crime in this country we can’t prevent, but this we can if we secure our border.”
Elisa Tambunga says she and her father Emilio are sharing their story because they want to “create change and make sure this never happens to another family again,” adding that similar tragedies happen “constantly” in Ozona.
Both Tambunga and Morgan are calling on Congress to act to secure the southern border and keep both Americans and migrants safe.
The responsibility of Congress is to “stop funding the open border policy we have right now,” Morgan said. “This isn’t a game. This should not be about politics.”
Congress needs to act to secure the border, Morgan said, “even if that includes shutting down the government to stop funding [the Department of Homeland Security], who’s pouring more money not to secure the borders, not to prevent what we just saw, but actually facilitating more of it to happen.”
DHS did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.
Since President Joe Biden took office and Alejandro Mayorkas became secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, border encounters with over 6 million illegal aliens have been reported by Customs and Border Protection, which is part of DHS.
In a June report, Hannah Davis, then a research assistant in The Heritage Foundation’s Border Security and Immigration Center, wrote that in 2023, “Border Patrol agents have encountered thousands of illegal aliens with prior criminal convictions, including assault, rape, and murder.” (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
Davis added that the “true extent of crimes committed by illegal aliens remains unknown because there are also over 1.5 million unaccounted for ‘gotaways’ [who entered the country] since Biden’s term began.”
The Tambungas’ story isn’t a one-time incident. Morgan said.
When he speaks to law enforcement, Morgan said, he is told that “the number of high-speed vehicle pursuits [has] exponentially increased to historic, epic proportions that they’ve never seen before.”
If Congress doesn’t take action to secure the border, Democrats and Republicans will send a message that they’re putting “political careers above public safety,” Morgan said, and “that they’re really not serious about border security, that it’s all been talk.”
Some congressional Republicans, such as Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, say they won’t support any spending bill that provides money to DHS without changes to America’s border policies.
“We must stand together in steadfast rejection of President Biden’s destructive status quo and refuse to give ground when the swamp comes crashing down on us,” Roy wrote in a commentary for The Federalist. “To do that, we must paint a bold vision and stand in unison, saying, ‘No security, no funding.’”
Congress has until the end of September to pass government funding bills, but with so much disagreement in the House and Senate, Congress may pass a continuing resolution, or CR, to continue to keep the government running.
Roy has rejected the use of a continuing resolution, saying that “a vote for such a CR is a vote for the status quo—i.e., a ‘continuation’ of bloated post-COVID spending levels and anti-security policies.”
Roy this week shared The Daily Signal’s video report on the Tambungas on X, formerly Twitter, writing: “Emilia and Maria [Tambunga] are just two among thousands who have lost their lives to Biden’s border crisis.”
“Stories like theirs are reason enough to secure the border,” Roy said, adding: “Congress must withhold funding from this administration until they decide to actually do their job.”
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