At the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference, we sit down with Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) to discuss why he believes the current administration’s border policies empower cartels and harm immigrants.
We also discuss what he describes as an “ideological cleansing” of America and what his goals are for the next two years as part of the minority in the House of Representatives.
Jan Jekielek: We’re here at CPAC 2021 with Congressman Chip Roy. It’s great to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Rep. Chip Roy: Great to be with you guys. It’s obviously a great weekend. We have the former president coming in. I’m going to go speak on a panel on debt and spending with my good buddy Russ Vought, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget, and it should be a good finish to the conference.
Mr. Jekielek: You’re very active in a number of different issues. Top of mind for me, actually, is immigration. Of course, you’re in Texas, and this is something that’s very top of mind to you, and you’ve been very vocal about some of the policy changes.
Rep. Roy: What we’re seeing right now from this administration is an abject failure, a refusal to actually do their job. The president is basically not, as the constitution suggests or orders, taking care to faithfully execute laws of the United States, to secure the borders of the United States.
And what is that doing? It’s causing the empowerment of cartels. It is causing an attraction of human beings to come here where they think they’re going to get here and get amnesty in a rush to our border. That endangers the lives of American citizens, but importantly, it endangers the lives of immigrants who are seeking to come to our country.
I understand why they do, and all of us do. This is a total irresponsibility from the Left, and they do it in the false name of compassion. We have 3500 people a day coming. By the way, it was Obama and Biden who set up the facilities that then the radical Left later deemed as “kids in cages,” when President Trump was using it to try to deal with the influx of children.
Now, what do you have? You have President Biden and their same policies saying we’ve got to pull these kids and put them in these facilities. The radical Left is going after him. But it’s irresponsible what they’re doing at the border, and it’s going to really truly harm immigrants and harm our country.
Mr. Jekielek: Why do you think these policy changes are coming so quickly, so fast, and all basically in an administration-type way?
Rep. Roy: This question actually really gets under my skin. President Biden knows full well, okay? He was kind of a law enforcement guy, he understood. He voted for the Secure Fence Act back in 2005. You can go back and look at his track record. He came at it from a perspective of, while still being to the left to where I would be, at least some sort of rational consideration in the past about what we need to do at our border at times. He is completely allowing the radical Left to just decide what this policy is going to be.
I want to go back to [this] being tragic for the immigrants. There are immigrants right now today, as we’re speaking, while this conference is going on, while the president is in the White House in Washington, there are immigrants in stash houses being abused. There are immigrants being abused on the journey. There are cartels that are using these people for profit. That is happening right now. It is happening because Democrats are irresponsible and refuse to secure our border.
A secure border doesn’t mean anti-immigrant. A secure border is actually pro-immigrant, because it’s a safe means for immigrants to come to the United States under our laws, respecting the rule of law. It’s better for America, better for Mexico, better for Central America, better for everybody around the world—most importantly, better for our country.
Mr. Jekielek: I know you as being someone that is actually pro-immigration, very anti-illegal immigration, because of the cost. You’ve been very big on the human trafficking issue. Now, how does that equation change under these types of policies?
Rep. Roy: What happens is when you empower the cartels—look, let’s be very clear, cartels make lots of money moving human beings for profit. They do so just to get them across the border using coyotes. That’s all integrated into what then turns into human trafficking, sex trafficking—basically slavery, modern day slavery in the United States, where people are being forced to work against their will or being forced to be in sex trade against their will. You have human beings being used for profit by dangerous illicit organizations.
This administration’s policies encourage that. This administration’s policies encourage and empower them, because it’s basically saying, “Hey, wide open borders.” But not really, right, because it turns DHS [Department of Homeland Security] into a catch-and-release processing, welcoming committee.
What happens when people come across our border? They seek Border Patrol agents because they’re going to get caught. They’re going to go to a facility, and they’re going to get immediately released into the United States. Either because they know they’re going to get amnesty, or because they’re just going to go off into the United States and then not show up to hearings later.
That’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because then fentanyl comes into our country. It’s dangerous because it’s bad for the immigrants. It’s dangerous because it empowers the cartels. It’s dangerous because then people get into our country, because Border Patrol is overwhelmed, who we don’t want to be here, whether it’s people being backed by the Chinese or the Iranians or the Russians. We see it every day. We find people that are not just workers from northern Mexico trying to come across the Rio Grande for a job.
Mr. Jekielek: You’re feeling this very directly in your community, in your district.
Rep. Roy: Absolutely. The district I represent between Austin and San Antonio goes west and southwest and gets to within about 100 miles of the border. My district or the district I represent and Tony Gonzales and Michael Cloud, my friends down in south Texas, we’re all feeling it. The people we represent are feeling it.
People who have ranches that have been in their families for years end up dealing with criminal activity. They find bodies in the middle of the ranch. It’ll be a mom, it’ll be a woman or a child that dies from the heat in the summer, whatever that they’re facing. It’s really tragic. And it’s avoidable, right?
Where you have fencing, it works. It slows down the traffic where you have cleared cane and roads for Border Patrol to use, where you have the right resources, when you have the right policies in place. We still have a million-plus people who can come here. We still have people that can come to the United States, but we don’t want to have the horrors that we’re seeing today. It is irresponsible, and the blood is on the hands of Democrats who basically push open borders in the false name of compassion.
Mr. Jekielek: From what you know, right now, how much has that illegal border traffic changed over the last month or month and a half?
Rep. Roy: I don’t have the most recent data for February yet, because we’re just now at the end of February. Today’s the last day. Coming up through January, we were at 3500 people a day, 100,000 a month. Those are numbers far exceeding even a lot of the numbers that we saw in 2019, right at the height of that massive influx coming across the border. That number is difficult or impossible for Border Patrol and ICE to manage. They’re now dealing with that influx.
They’re trying to figure what to do and here’s the important part. For a while in January and into February, we were using Title 42 under our health codes to hold the line because of the pandemic. Now the administration is moving away from that. They’re not going to use that. We were using our “return to Mexico” policies where we were working with Mexico to hold people in Mexico. That reduces the pressure, it gives people less incentive.
We’re now seeing more influx, because people are going, “Wait a minute, I’m not going to get caught, I’m not going to get stopped.” It’s turning it now to a catch-and-release organization. Like I said, now they’re feeling it. Biden’s going to start taking some heat because. “Well, what do we do with a child?”
You can’t just release a child, and you can’t just leave that child in a cell with someone claiming to be his or her uncle. You got to have facilities to do that. So now, the radical Left Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others are saying, “Kids in cages.” You’re doing it too. So hopefully, they’re going to kind of hang themselves with their own rhetoric, but we have to keep fighting for these people.
Mr. Jekielek: So 3500 at the end of January. What was at the end of December?
Rep. Roy: I’d have to go back and look at what the exact number was, but it was trending up. So whatever it is, you go back and look at the numbers from October, November, December, January, those numbers were trending up in anticipation of Biden amnesty and in anticipation of the policies that would change. Then as the policies change, those numbers are staying up.
So let’s talk about one other thing that I know you’ve been vocal about. You have a formulation, which struck me as quite interesting. The theme of the conference, of course, is America Uncancelled. You described that you’re seeing an ideological cleansing of America, you called it a sickness. Tell me about this.
On the floor a couple nights ago, my friend Scott Perry and I and a few other colleagues, Lauren Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Jody Hice, we took to the floor to describe what I called ideological cleansing.
If you go back and look at the history of mankind, this is not unusual for powerful governments, but what we’re seeing, whether it’s COVID, what we’re seeing in terms of spending with our schools, and then now particularly with what we might call canceled culture with respect to big tech, we’re seeing the silencing of dissent, an ideological cleansing. You will be made to bow down to the altar of the cultural elites in Washington, New York, and LA.
Frankly, now it’s expanding into other areas where they’re going to tell you what to believe, tell you what to think. If you dare break from that, then you’re going to be punished. You’re going to be canceled. You’re going to be stripped of your social media accounts. You’re going to have a hotel closed, because the corporate boards will be attacked by the radical Left and say that you’re a bigot.
Am I a bigot because I believe in secure borders? They’ll say so. In my view, I believe that I’m pro-immigrant by believing in secure borders. That’s what a free debate should be. They’re going to say, “No, you’re a bigot.” That’s what they do. Anything you believe, you are suddenly a bigot. If I believe that there is man and woman and that they marry and then they produce children, the bedrock of civilization for millennia—if I believe that, I’m a bigot.
They passed the Equality Act this week. We pointed out that that law, if it were to be enacted—and hopefully it won’t be, because I think Joe Manchin understands that bill is not good in West Virginia—that bill would do horrible things by redefining sex, by making it where boys can run against girls in track meets or in swim meets or in athletic competitions in high school or college.
It will destroy Division I athletics for women. Importantly, though, it will trample on the rights of churches, private Christian schools, any school. It could be a Muslim school. It could be a secular school, but it’s going to trample on your right to be able to teach people something that is—to what I described—out of step with the orthodoxy of the radical cultural elite.
That’s the ideological cleansing, and it’s happening right before our eyes. This afternoon, I’m going to speak about spending with my friend Russ Vought, like I just said earlier. One of the things we’re going to talk about is why are we funding this?
We’re funding the very institutions that are trying to take away our liberties—not trying, they are taking away our liberties and our ability to speak freely, to engage freely in the free sharing of ideas, to practice our faith to teach our children, to frack, to do the things that we want to do, to have our businesses open rather than having our government shut them all down. We’re funding all that. We should stop.
Mr. Jekielek: Which institutions specifically are we funding?
Rep. Roy: We’re funding the United States government. The United States government is using its power, now through the Equality Act to become law. But even before that, without the Equality Act, using its power to shut down activities like right now, a ban on federal lands for fracking. That harms our economy. Right now we had $500 billion in the $2 trillion bill we passed on Friday going to state and local governments who have been shutting down businesses across America—forcing Shelley Luther in Dallas, Texas not to be able to open her barber shop, to be able to put food on her plate.
You can go down the laundry list of things that we’re doing. We’re funding schools [where] the teachers unions refuse to teach our kids. Federal dollars, $100 billion dollars, were added to the pot on Friday. Why are we doing that? Why would we fund schools that are not even open? Then if they do open, they teach our kids that America is evil. They teach our kids there is no God. They teach our kids that even if there is a God, you can’t talk about it. That’s what we’re doing.
We’re funding endless wars. We’re 20 years into a war in the Middle East, and we haven’t had an authorization of force since 2001. Why are we continuing to fund that one and a half trillion dollars later? That’s what we’re doing, we’re funding the very tyranny that’s taking away our liberties.
Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating. Obviously, right now you’re in the minority in the House, Republicans are in the minority in the Senate, the administration, of course, is Democrat. At least for the next two years, what are you going to do?
Rep. Roy: We’re going to be making the points that I just made, but we’re going to be making it very loudly. The idea that in 22 and 24, it’s time to reclaim our American inheritance. It’s time to go on offense. We’re not just going to play defense against the administration. We’re going on full offense on a liberty agenda to make sure that the American people know what we’re going to reclaim for our kids and grandkids.
Are we going to get anything passed? No. This is a messaging where we’re in the minority. It’s about messaging and going to the American people and selling ideas. Every step of the way in Washington, we will throw up every roadblock we know how to against the radical leftist agenda. Whatever they pass out of the House goes to the Senate.
I just have one message for every human being who lives in West Virginia. Make sure Joe Manchin knows you don’t agree with this radical agenda, because Joe Manchin and a few others in the Senate have the ability to hold the Senate in check. The filibuster should be honored. That means it’s a cooling saucer, we slow down this stuff, and we can have a real debate about the issues that matter.
Mr. Jekielek: Any final thoughts?
Rep. Roy: Right now, a lot of people are frustrated about some of the current events, particularly if you’re conservative, and I understand it. I am too. It’s easy to get down or cynical. The fact of the matter is, the American people are awakening. They’re seeing what’s going on. They’re seeing the veil lifted on a public school system that has for too long been indoctrinating our kids. They’re seeing the veil lifted on higher-ed, they’re seeing the veil lifted on the defense industrial complex.
A lot of that has to do with the Trump agenda and attacking the swamp in Washington. So we’re gonna get on offense on those issues and carry that agenda forward in a way that mobilizes people. I really appreciate the opportunity to visit with you..
Mr. Jekielek: Congressman Chip Roy, great to have you.
Rep. Roy: Good to be on.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.