Danger of border chaos is evident. Why did TX rep reach for something so implausible?
There are plenty of reasons why Congress should tackle illegal immigration and help Texas secure the southern border. So, it’s too bad that Fort Worth-area Rep. Roger Williams had to reach so far for evidence that turned out to be anecdotal at best.
Williams, a Willow Park Republican whose district includes much of Arlington and sprawls southwest of Fort Worth, has offered a bill that would allow Texas to secure the border, including with physical barriers, and to seek reimbursement from the federal government. When he announced the bill’s specifics in a Fort Worth visit this week, he said it was to protect small businesses.
“There’s areas in America that 90% of small businesses have been affected by break-ins and thefts, physical challenges by illegals, and it’s affecting the small business community,” Williams said.
On its face, that’s a huge number unlikely to be accurate. When a Star-Telegram reporter asked where it originated, Williams said it came from a woman, whose name he couldn’t remember, who testified in a recent meeting of the House Small Business Committee, which Williams chairs.
As a congressman representing Texas, Williams should do better when presenting evidence that supports his legislation. His use of such a wildly inflated statistic irresponsibly raises the heat on an already sensitive issue. All available evidence suggests people in the country illegally don’t commit crime at a disproportionate rate.
Even if what he said was proven true, the effect of immigration on small businesses isn’t even the most compelling reason to make significant changes quickly. And it has little to do with the issue Williams was addressing: the strain placed upon the state when it has to do what should be a federal job.
Texas’ battle with the Biden administration over the issue is ever-escalating. Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration is defying a U.S. Supreme Court order that allows the Border Patrol to cut concertina wire along the border. Williams’ legislation spotlights the ongoing billions Texas is spending to deal with the chaos there.
If Williams needs statistics to demonstrate the danger of a porous border, he need not reach for fanciful numbers with no backing. Since President Joe Biden took office and reversed Trump-era policies such as Remain in Mexico, Texas officers have encountered nearly 500,000 people trying to enter the country illegally.
Abbott’s office says Texas law enforcement has seized more than 450 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill everyone in America. Fentanyl-related deaths in Texas have increased 500% in the last three years. Last fall, a robust human smuggling ring was identified operating within the border chaos, armed with weapons and body armor.
All these reasons and many more make it the most compelling to draft legislation that might attempt to implement order and security. Even Williams’ bill seems underwhelming. While Texas is spending billions to protect its border, and the federal government should be doing its part, the financial component is not even the most important or frustrating part. Resolving the issue and maintaining stability is of the utmost importance, not who’s paying for what — even though it is frustrating that Texas is footing so much of the bill.
When there’s so much information available to a member of Congress on such a vital topic, it’s incumbent upon our representatives to get it right. Work with other lawmakers and draft bills that will make a dent in the problem, and present compelling evidence to support such a policy. Otherwise, it’s just political theater, and we have enough of that.