(The Center Square) – Fallout continues from remarks Democratic El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego made before the House Judiciary Committee when he claimed “there is no open border in El Paso” and those advocating for a secure border were racist.
“I must disabuse you of information, which I personally know to be false. There is no open border in El Paso,” Samaniego said. “Immigrants seeking asylum largely present themselves to Border Patrol for processing.
“There is no invasion of migrants in our community. Nor are their hordes of undocumented immigrants committing crimes against citizens or causing havoc in our community. Claiming this continues a false, racist narrative against individuals to perpetuate violence that the El Paso community is all too familiar with.”
The judge made the comments after Hays County, Texas, resident Brandon Dunn testified about his son, a 15-year-old sophomore in high school, who was killed from fentanyl poisoning from drugs likely brought in through the southern border.
U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, asked Dunn if he and his wife, who is Hispanic, believes that “wanting a secure border makes one racist or anti-Hispanic.” Dunn replied, “Not in the slightest. Her family holds that same position.” He also said fathers he’s spoken to who’ve lost children to fentanyl say, “this is a border issue. It’s not an immigration issue.”
U.S. Rep. Wesley Hunt, a Republican from Houston, took issue with the judge’s comments, saying he supported a secure border, and as a Black man wasn’t racist.
Hunt said over 5 million people who’ve illegally entered the U.S. was a statistical fact and equivalent to seven congressional districts. He also said “enough fentanyl has poured through the border to kill every American five times” since Biden’s been in office, another “fact.”
Hunt said he had to respond to the judge’s remarks that no invasion was occurring at the southern border, saying, “I’m somebody who needs to look at the definition of things before we can have this conversation. According to the Oxford Dictionary, an invasion is an ‘incursion by a large number of people or things into a place or sphere of activity.’”
He said over 5 million people illegally entering the U.S. “constitutes a large number,” enough fentanyl pouring through the border to kill every person in America five times over constituted “things,” and both were “a direct definition of the word invasion.”
He also took issue with the judge’s characterization that those wanting a secure border were racist. He said, “I’ve been Black for a long time. I’ve been a Black minority in this country for a very long time. But this is actually not about race. This is actually an issue of public safety.
“And if I call this an invasion, sir, I’m not a racist. I can assure you I’m not racist. What I can assure you is that I want to make sure that fentanyl doesn’t indiscriminately kill any race, religion, color or creed. Fentanyl doesn’t care where you’re from. Fentanyl doesn’t care about race. Fentanyl kills indiscriminately.”
Hunt also cautioned his fellow members of Congress and others not to play the “race card.”
He said, “The reason why we have to be careful what we deem and what we call racist in the future is because we start to lose focus on what the actual problem is. This administration and the Democratic Party unfortunately uses race as a scapegoat for everything. And as somebody that wants to make sure that we do attack racist issues when they do occur, we can’t be the boy who cried wolf and blame racism all the time.
“I am here to hold the administration accountable on issues of race, and sir, this ain’t one of them. … I implore you all to be careful when employing race because … there are over 100,000 sons and daughters no longer here because of fentanyl last year.”