Rep. Chip Roy of Texas on Wednesday slammed a Democratic judge for suggesting that anyone who described the border crisis as an invasion was racist.
The exchange came during a House Judiciary Committee hearing. In his opening remarks, Democratic El Paso County Judge Richardo Samaniego denied the notion that there was an “open border in El Paso” and said “immigrants seeking asylum largely present themselves to Border Patrol for processing.”
“There is no invasion of migrants in our community. Nor are their hoards of undocumented immigrants committing crimes against citizens or causing havoc in our community,” Samaniego said. “Claiming this continues a false, racist narrative against individuals to perpetuate violence that the El Paso community is all too familiar with.”
The last line referred to 2019’s mass shooting in El Paso, when a lone gunman opened fire at a Walmart and killed nearly two dozen people. Authorities said the shooter, Patrick Crusius admitted that he was targeting Mexicans.
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Later in the hearing, Roy accused Samaniego of suggesting that anyone who advocated for securing the border was “racist.”
Roy noted that around half of Border Patrol agents are Hispanic. He asked Samaniego whether he believed it was racist for Hispanic Border Patrol agent to frame the border crisis as an “invasion” and for wanting more resources to enforce the law.
Samaniego appeared to equivocate, saying the Border Patrol agent referenced by Roy had free speech rights to say whatever he liked.
“If you asked a Border Patrol [agent] in El Paso, they’re looking for assistance, that we do not detain them because they don’t have the space. They don’t have the personnel,” Samaniego said.
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“I appreciate that but what I would just suggest to you is that that is not a racist statement to say that we think we should secure the border,” Roy said.
Also at the hearing, Hays County, Texas resident Brandon Dunn testified about his son, a 15-year-old high schooler who was killed from the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl that likely came through the southern border.
Roy asked Dunn if he and his wife – who is Hispanic – believe that wanting to secure the border made one racist.
“Not in the slightest,” Dunn said, adding that his wife’s family “holds that same position.”
Samaniego later pushed back on Roy’s assertion, saying that his comments during the hearing were in no way meant to insinuate “that it was a racist act to secure the border.”
He clarified in a statement to Fox News Digital that “classifying migrants into a category of criminals who are responsible for the majority of drug trafficking is what I believe to be racist narratives that can lead to targeting migrants or even our community as was the case on [Aug. 3, 2019] with respect to the Walmart tragedy.”
“Also, I would like to clarify that my definition of invasion is more what took place on our US Capitol on January 6th,” he added.
“The difference is that migrants are not coming to our country to invade or attack our country, they’re trying to find a better life and be free of the credible fear factor; which is a big component of why they leave their country and try to find security in ours.”