How Texans in Congress feel about Trump's delay of family deportations depends on their party affiliation

Texas Tribune News

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents escort immigrants near the Paso del Norte International Bridge to a processing center in El Paso.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents escort immigrants near the Paso del Norte International Bridge to a processing center in El Paso.
Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s abrupt delay in launching a massive deportation effort aimed at families in several American cities — including Houston — drew responses divided along partisan lines.

After exchanges via news release, Twitter and a phone call, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi successfully lobbied Trump to hold off on deporting immigrants around the country. Trump announced the delay in Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids via Twitter on Saturday.

“At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border,” he tweeted. “If not, Deportations start!”

The move came as the U.S. House and Senate are attempting to square away differences in a spending bill that would address the humanitarian migrant crisis at the Mexican border. Democrats said they viewed his deportation threats as an unseemly negotiating tactic. At the same time, Texas Republicans applauded the president’s actions, arguing the threat succeeded at opening up discussions with Democrats.

“President Trump’s threat to conduct ICE raids brought Democrats to the table for negotiations,” said U.S. Rep. Randy Weber, R-Friendswood. “His delay in acting signifies that all sides are moving forward in the right direction. Make no mistake — should Democrat leadership fail to negotiate, I have no doubt the raids will occur.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Roger Williams said in a statement to The Texas Tribune that Trump “has worked in good faith to secure the southern border and make necessary reforms to our immigration laws, only to be met with stark opposition from Democrats.”

Other GOP leaders agreed.

“Once again, the president is showing his willingness to work with Congress to solve this crisis on our border,” said U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Victoria. “I appreciate his continued push to fix the asylum loopholes that are driving this humanitarian emergency, and it is past time for Congress to do our job to resolve the crisis.”

U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, called the situation at the border “unprecedented.”

“Despite the facts, House Democrats continue to kick solutions for this crisis down the road,” he added. “I stand ready to work with the majority to send realistic legislative solutions to provide effective border security and desperately needed humanitarian aid to President Trump’s desk.”

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, said that federal border agents don’t have the resources needed to respond to the influx of migrants crossing the border. He urged his “Democratic colleagues to come to the table and work with Republicans and the president to secure our nation’s borders.”

But U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, weighed in on the matter to The Washington Post in his capacity as the leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

“The threat to knock and drag people away from their families and out of their communities shouldn’t be a negotiation tactic for an American president,” he said Saturday.

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, a Fort Worth Democrat, released a statement Monday.

“The President should listen to the majority of Americans who support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and work with both parties to advance comprehensive immigration reform,” he said. “Instead, our President continues to use our immigrant community as props for his own political gain causing irreparable damage across our county. I will continue to fight to protect the immigrants across our community and ensure that they know their rights.”

Nearly all members of Congress agree that the migrant situation at the border is unsustainable, and the larger aim is to pass a spending bill with new money to address the matter before the July 4 recess next week. But most Republicans are pushing for humanitarian aid to be tied to increased border security, while Democrats are fiercely pushing to keep the allocated funds tied to humanitarian issues.

One of the more powerful Texas Republicans on the issue, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Austin, serves as the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is a former chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security. On CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, he said he thinks Democrats have “little appetite” to compromise.

“But I think at a minimum … we have to pass humanitarian aid to take care of these children,” he said. “That is the nation we are. We have to take care of these kids.

“I’d like to see it all together. But you know what, if — if my choice on the — minority side is to vote up or down on a compassionate, humanitarian package, that’s what I’m going to do because it’s the right thing to do.”