Republican Challenger Monique DeSpain Criticizes Oregon Rep. Val Hoyle for Border Comments

Oregon congresswoman Val Hoyle told conservative constituents that the southern border must be open.
Republican Challenger Monique DeSpain Criticizes Oregon Rep. Val Hoyle for Border Comments
People walk along the highway through Arriaga, Chiapas state in southern Mexico, on their way to the United States, on Jan. 8, 2024. (Edgar H. Clemente/AP Photo)
Scottie Barnes

Oregon congresswoman Val Hoyle has been criticized for recently surfaced comments that she made during a trip to the southern border.

In a February 2 press conference, the freshman Democrat told constituents that an open border was necessary and that illegal immigrants are needed for menial labor.

“I get out into the most conservative parts of my district and I humanize and bring this issue right down to what matters,” Ms. Hoyle said in a video found on YouTube.

She added that she tells conservatives that the border must remain open.

“This has to be done,” she reported telling them.

Ms. Hoyle’s likely Republican challenger for Oregon’s 4th Congressional District, Monique DeSpain, said Ms. Hoyle is “not looking out for our best interests.”

“Val Hoyle does not want to secure our border,” said Ms. DeSpain during an April 12 campaign event in Springfield, Oregon.

“She wants to ensure that the migrant flow continues.”

Ms. DeSpain, a retired Air Force colonel, called that “a dereliction of duty.”

On the Border

Ms. Hoyle’s remarks came as she wrapped up a visit to the southern U.S. border in Texas. The congresswoman joined a delegation of eight other Democrat House members to learn about the ongoing immigration crisis, meeting with local leaders and U.S. Border Patrol officials.

Ironically, Ms. DeSpain pointed out that “her comments were made near a border crossing where, just one month later, hundreds of migrants broke through razor wire and overwhelmed members of the Texas National Guard.”

During the press conference, Ms. Hoyle emphasized the need for illegal immigrants to bolster the workforce.

“Every one of my farmers knows that the people that are doing backbreaking work in heat, in brutal weather, to put food on our table, they want immigration reform,” she said.

“Our chambers of commerce, they want immigration reform.”

When her constituents asked why she didn’t want to shut down the border, Ms. Hoyle explained, “I point out how much we need to have movement through the border and [how much] we need the workforce.”

Ms. DeSpain expressed concern that so many Americans are dropping out of the workforce while millions of illegal immigrants are being added to the labor market.

“And by saying, ‘we need this movement through the border,’ Congresswoman Hoyle is recklessly marginalizing the full-blown national security crisis at our southern border,” Ms. DeSpain added.

Ms. Hoyle went on to characterize reporting about the border as “disinformation.”

She said part of her job is “get[ting] out into the most conservative part of my district” and “breaking through the disinformation and misinformation” about the border crisis.

But in recent hearings, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that the border crisis poses a major homeland security threat.

Speaking before a Senate panel on worldwide threats on March 11, Mr. Wray issued a stark warning about “dangerous individuals coming across the southern border” and said there is “no doubt criminals have entered” there.

“There is a particular network that has some of the overseas facilitators of the smuggling network ISIS, ties that we’re very concerned about.”

Overall, he said, threats have reached a “whole other level.”

When Mr. Wray testified before the House Appropriations Committee on April 11, he again sounded the alarm.

“I am increasingly concerned about the potential for a coordinated attack here, in the homeland, akin to the ISIS-K attack we saw in the Russian concert hall just a couple of weeks ago,” Mr. Wray testified. He added that the FBI “needs funding to mitigate the range of threats emanating from the border “fentanyl, gangs like MS-13, and human trafficking.”

Ms. DeSpain said Ms. Hoyle is choosing to ignore the FBI director’s “repeated statements that our nation is the most vulnerable to attack than it has ever been because of our open southern border.”

The debate is likely to heat up as illegal immigration and concerns over potential terror threats take center stage in the 2024 elections.

“We need to actually secure the border, not merely process and distribute illegal migrants throughout the interior of our country,” Ms. DeSpain concluded.

FBI, CBP Sound Alarm

Mr. Wray’s warnings came as more than 10 million illegal immigrants have entered through the southern border since President Biden took office.

In fiscal year 2023, which ended in late September and included a surge in border crossings, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) reported 736 encounters with illegal immigrants on the terrorist watch list at U.S. borders, the most in the past six years.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of migrants are evading agents as they cross the southern border.

“They’re exploiting a vulnerability that’s on our border right now,” Border Patrol chief Jason Owens told CBS News in his first sit-down interview in English since assuming the top role at Border Patrol in June 2023.

In the March 21 interview, Mr. Owens said Border Patrol is “closing in” on recording a record one million apprehensions of illegal immigrants between ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border in the 2024 fiscal year, which began in October of last year.

For the third consecutive year, the agency is on track to record two million apprehensions by the time the fiscal year ends at the end of September, Mr. Owens added.

But what “keeps [him] up at night is the 140,000 known got-aways,” he said, referring to illegal immigrants who are detected by cameras and sensors crossing into the United States without being apprehended.

“That is a national security threat,” Mr. Owens said.

Voters Are Listening

A majority of Americans, about 78 percent, describe the large number of illegal immigrants seeking to enter the country at the U.S.-Mexico border as either a crisis (45 percent) or a major problem (32 percent), according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted from January 16-21, 2024, among 5,140 adults.

Throughout the Biden presidency, the share of Americans citing immigration as a top priority has increased 18 percentage points from 39 percent to 57 percent.

A majority of Americans view defending the country from future terror attacks (63 percent), dealing with immigration (57 percent), and reducing crime (58 percent) as top political priorities for the upcoming year.

A larger majority of respondents (80 percent) say the U.S. government is doing a bad job handling the illegal immigrant influx on the U.S.-Mexico border including 45 percent who say it is doing a very bad job, according to Pew.

Just 18 percent say the U.S. government is doing a good job on immigration.

The Epoch Times reached out to Ms. Hoyle for comment but did not receive a reply.

Scottie Barnes writes breaking news and investigative pieces for The Epoch Times from the Pacific Northwest. She has a background in researching the implications of public policy and emerging technologies on areas ranging from homeland security and national defense to forestry and urban planning.