Press Releases

Nadler Opening Statement for Markup of the Border Security and Enforcement Act

Washington, April 19, 2023
Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, during a markup of the Border Security and Enforcement Act (H.R. 2640):

"Mr. Chairman, after three and a half months of Republican infighting and chaos, the Judiciary Committee is finally holding its first markup of legislation this Congress.  

"Today, the Committee is considering a massive piece of legislation, the so-called “Border Security and Enforcement Act,” which takes an extreme enforcement-only approach to the complex issue of immigration.

"Once again, my Republican colleagues show us that they are not interested in finding real solutions to tough issues.  This bill attempts to combine 8 different bills—each one more cruel and heartless than the next—into one contradictory and overlapping mess.  It is nothing more than pure political theater.  

"This bill has no chance of being enacted into law and most of its provisions cannot even pass on the House floor due to opposition from Republicans.  That’s right, these Republican bills are so extreme that they are opposed by their own members.

"One of the bills that Republicans attempted to combine into today’s legislation is H.R. 29, the “Border Safety and Security Act of 2023.”  One of our Republican colleagues from Texas characterized that bill by saying quote “H.R. 29…does anything but secure the border.  So guess what? That bill in particular, it’s dead.”

"Another one of our Republican colleagues cautioned Republican Leadership against moving only border security legislation, as we are doing today, saying “We’re talking about millions of people who do not have a dignified status.  It’s immoral.  It’s not Christian.  And it’s wrong that we as a society allow for millions and millions of people to live in the shadows.”

Another House Republican said, “it will never pass the Senate, if we’re only talking border security.”  And these are just a few of the many comments I could pick from.

"Yet here we are today, and we are expected to believe that Judiciary Republicans are putting forward real solutions to modernize and fix our immigration system?

"My Republican colleagues are trying to take us back to the failed, illegal, and immoral policies of the Trump administration.  Former President Trump’s radical, inhumane, and racist immigration actions weakened the U.S. economy, undermined our moral standing in the world and did not make us any safer.  His erratic approach also failed to stem the flow of migrants while it trampled on our American values.  

"But, incredibly, some of the proposals put forward by my colleagues actually go further than what the Trump administration even attempted to do.

"The bill before us today would completely gut our asylum system, take away protections for vulnerable children fleeing for their lives, destroy our economy, indefinitely detain children, and make the situation at the border even worse.  And that is just for starters.
Immigration reform is a complex problem that requires comprehensive solutions, and an enforcement-only strategy simply doesn’t work.  Democrats have put forward real proposals and we stand ready to work with serious Republicans to pass meaningful solutions.  

"Democrats take this complex humanitarian crisis seriously.  Our proposals address the root causes of migration, improve border security, and create additional legal pathways for people to enter the United States lawfully.  But Republicans have chosen a narrow path that imposes extreme pain and hardship on the most vulnerable people, while doing nothing to actually solve the problem.

"I would ask my Republican colleagues to heed the advice of one of their own, Representative Tony Gonzales, who represents 42 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border, and who said of these bills, “If they try to jam them through, they’re gonna fail on the floor, so probably best to get it fixed out ahead of time than see it go down in burning flames on the House floor.”

"I encourage my colleagues to oppose this wrongheaded bill, and I ask my Republican colleagues to go back to the drawing board.  If you do, Democrats stand ready to work with you.

"I thank the Chairman for yielding, and I yield back the balance of my time."