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DC, the Core

A Woman Who Opposes Her Boss and Husband

Posted February 16, 2024 at 5:00 PM EST
Veronica Escobar, a Democratic House Representative from Texas, has a strong stance on immigration and border issues. Despite being the co-chair of Biden's reelection campaign, she opposed his recent border policy. She's married to an immigration judge but ran for office to change the laws he follows. How does she dare oppose her partner at home and in politics? Who is she really supporting

Let’s review the key issue on Capitol Hill this February: the border policy and a lawmaker who plays a subtle role in it.

Earlier this month, after months of negotiations, the bipartisan border security bill was eventually unveiled by the Senate. Most notably, it includes $118.3 billion in funding as a national security supplemental.

In the days leading up to the bill’s release, perhaps due to concerns about his reelection, President Biden shifted his usually moderate stance on the border issue. He said that if the bill passed both the Senate and House, he would sign it immediately and deploy it on day one.

President Joe Biden: "If that bill were the law today, I’d shut down the border right now and fix it quickly."

However, upon the bill’s release, it faced bipartisan opposition. Within less than 48 hours, the bill was killed.

Among the lawmakers who opposed it, there’s one that I wanna highlight. She is Veronica Escobar, a House of Representative from Texas. Her office is located on the fourth floor of Rayburn House Office Building behind me.

Texas is undoubtedly a deep red state, but not all lawmakers there are Republicans, such as Escobar.

Escobar is not just a Democrat Congresswoman; she’s also the co-chair of Biden’s reelection campaign. In theory, she should wholeheartedly support the president. However, she is at odds with Biden’s recent statement on immigration, particularly his proposal to close the border.

Rep. Veronica Escobar: "I am a huge supporter of the President… Does that mean I agree with him on everything? I don't know. There's no two people who agree completely with one another."

It’s interesting to note that Escorbar’s husband is an immigration judge. However, she introduced a bill to use asylum officers, rather than immigration judges, to rapidly adjudicate the claims and shorten the waiting period. In short, she aims to minimize her husband’s influence.

Veronica Escobar: "He is a man who has to follow the law. I ran for office in order to change those laws."

I won’t delve into Escobar’s position on immigration. What I do want to ask is this: if she opposes her boss and her husband, then, who does she actually support?

She supports her constituents.

Escobar represents Texas’ 16th Congressional District, covering almost all of El Paso, a rare blue area in the predominantly red state. El Paso is among the cities grappling with the most severe border crisis.

Many residents in El Paso were once immigrants or refugees who had no other choice but to flee and settle there. Despite the daily influx of thousands of undocumented immigrants, many local El Pasoans are still willing to help. They open up their wallets and their pantries to provide hospitality for migrants because their own families once faced similar struggles.

Including Escorbar’s grandparents. They fled the Mexican Revolution, crossing the border into El Paso, Texas, from Chihuahua, Mexico. They earned their living by running a dairy farm where Escobar grew up. Fixing machinery with her dad and helping her mom rinse off jeans with manure were everyday things for Escobar in her teenage years.

Escobar didn’t want to spend the rest of her life on the dairy farm. She entered politics and became a Congresswoman.

Like other lawmakers, Escobar was elected to Congress by her constituents. She was not appointed to Congress by President Biden or got the job through her husband’s connections. While her boss can offer financial security and her husband provides family stability, it is the voters who empower her legislative authority.

Therefore, as members of Congress, they may oppose their leaders and disagree with their spouses, but they must prioritize representing their constituents. The policies favored by their constituents will be the ones they aim to enact. This is their duty and obligation as lawmakers. This is also their confidence in saying no.

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