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Speaker Johnson: ‘That border fight is coming,
and we’re going to die on that hill’
Rafael Bernal

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) pledged Monday to block foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel unless measures including “remain in Mexico” are reinstated in U.S. border policy.

In an appearance on conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Johnson lamented that aid to Israel and Ukraine amid their respective wars were packaged together in a supplemental budget request by the Biden administration, but the Speaker made clear his priority is border policy.

“Israel and Ukraine are separate and distinct. We have to support Israel. It’s a top priority. Ukraine’s important as well. But we cannot be involved in securing the border of Ukraine or other nations until we secure our own. And so that border fight is coming, and we’re going to die on that hill, Hugh,” Johnson said.

Johnson cited a recent visit to the border with 64 members of his GOP conference, lauding remain in Mexico, a Trump-era policy that returned asylum seekers to Mexico to await processing.

“But I’ll tell you, the remain In Mexico policy, for example, when we were down on the border, the Border Patrol agents and the sheriffs who are in charge of patrolling down there doing their dead level best, they said if the president would issue an executive order tomorrow to reinstate remain In Mexico, they think that would stem the flow by like 70 percent, because it would send a message around the world that we don’t have an open welcome mat,” said Johnson.

The policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, was controversial because it required Mexican acquiescence to take in thousands of third-country nationals, and because it created de facto refugee camps along Mexico’s northern border.

Though Johnson extolled the deterrent effect of remain in Mexico as the gold standard in immigration enforcement, Hewitt pushed the Speaker to embrace construction of a border wall as the top GOP priority.

“I’ll be full bore: I will oppose any deal that does not include a wall. Will there be a wall in the immigration deal that includes Israel and Ukraine funding?” asked Hewitt, an influential voice in conservative politics.

“Well, that’s a great question. It really is about more than the wall, though,” Johnson replied, adding that the wall is a “critical priority,” but segueing into the benefits of H.R. 2 — the House-passed GOP border bill — and its inclusion of remain in Mexico.

Hewitt later returned to the issue of the wall, establishing construction of 900 miles of physical barriers as a red line for his support of any border policy bill.

“I am looking for one thing and one thing only. If the wall is not in there, authorized and appropriated, construction underway before anything else kicks in — I mean, really notwithstanding any other law language, you know the language to write, Mr. Speaker — I will be against it,” Hewitt said.





Rafael Bernal covers the Hispanic political world and the policy issues around it and global migration. He co-hosts a public affairs show on Hill.TV called “What America’s Thinking” and is a regular contributor to various radio and TV outlets in both English and in Spanish.

Rafael was previously the managing editor at UPI and practiced law in his native Mexico City. He has a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University.

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