Congressman Mike Lawler plays politics instead of securing our border (Opinion By: Mondaire Jones)

For more than a year, Washington Republicans like our Congressman, Mike Lawler, have loudly criticized the impact of the migrant crisis on New York. The last few months have exposed that Lawler and his fellow Republicans in the House and Senate are more interested in playing politics than actually solving the problem.

Like many hot-button topics, solving the border crisis is complicated. We need a secure border, but there is no “force field” a President can turn on with the flip of a switch to stop all migration.

For that, funding and new federal laws are required. Indeed, Washington Republicans like Lawler have demanded federal legislation for the past year in television interviews and on social media. That is, until they finally got what they had been requesting.

A bipartisan group of Senators, including some of the most conservative Senators in the nation, crafted legislation to fix several of the problems at our border.

This legislation would grant the Homeland Security Secretary new authorities to shut down the border, implement new emergency border restrictions that would require the border to shut down in the untenable situation we see today, and increase the number of requirements to obtain asylum.

Like all legislation, it had elements that offended members of both parties. But experts, including the very conservative Border Patrol Union, endorsed the bipartisan legislation as a major step towards a secure border.

But right when Congress was on the cusp of addressing the problem, Donald Trump stepped in. Trump publicly and privately threatened Republicans who supported the legislation because, as he stated multiple times, he wants chaos at the border to continue so he can deny President Biden a legislative victory and continue to blame Democrats for the migrant crisis in the fall campaign.

Unfortunately, as with his vote for the insurrectionist House Speaker Mike Johnson and the opening of a sham impeachment inquiry into President Biden, Representative Lawler showed yet again that he has no backbone and will never stand up to Trump. Instead of embracing this bi-partisan legislation to secure our border, Lawler refused to risk angering Trump by speaking out in favor of this legislation.

Given his leverage in the razor-thin House Republican majority, he could also insist that Speaker Johnson allow a floor vote on the bill. But he has done neither of these things. So, now, with House Speaker Johnson saying the bill would be “dead on arrival” in the House if the Senate were to pass it, Republicans in the Senate decided to abandon the bill altogether.

Lawler, who opines on irrelevant and unserious topics like pizza ovens in New York City, has had nothing to say about Trump’s intervention and his close ally Speaker Johnson’s blockade of this bipartisan legislation.

This is a pattern with Lawler. Prior to running for office, he spent his life as a GOP operative, literally working every day to advance extreme MAGA Republicans like Donald Trump and undermine what remains of civility and bipartisanship in Washington. In addition to serving as Executive Director of the New York State Republican Party, Lawler was a convention delegate for Donald Trump in 2016 and worked to re-elect him in 2020.

Congressman Lawler may be unusually quiet about this bipartisan border security legislation, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask him about it. He needs to take some responsibility for the migrant crisis—and for voting last year to reduce resources that help protect our border and keep our communities safe. He is willing to defund our border security, while talking about the urgency of the situation on TV. His constituents in the Lower Hudson
Valley need to watch what he does, not what he says.

Unlike my opponent, I have consistently voted for funding to secure our border, and I support comprehensive immigration reform that would allocate the proper resources to secure our border, while also establishing a realistic pathway to citizenship for otherwise law-abiding undocumented people.

It is a travesty that Republicans in Congress are refusing to work with Democrats on a realistic proposal to secure our border and address the migrant crisis. We need leaders willing to stand up to the extremes in both parties, and who will meet this moment with urgency and resolve. I intend to be that leader yet again for the Lower Hudson Valley, which means defeating Mike Lawler in November.

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