EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A New York congressman facing fraud and money laundering charges says he did not violate the conditions of his release on bond by coming to El Paso to tour the border on Monday.
“I would not violate any conditions set forth (by the court). I am here on full compliance, and I am here legally,” U.S. Rep. George Santos, R-NY, told reporters at a news conference at the Hyatt Place El Paso Airport hotel.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York has banned Santos from traveling outside New York City or the District of Columbia unless he gives the court advance notice. Santos is under a 13-count federal indictment that includes seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one court of theft of public funds, and two counts of making false statements to the House of Representatives.
On Monday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, told Fox News that Santos should not run for re-election due to his legal troubles.
But Santos said he was in El Paso as part of his job in the U.S. House of Representatives. He said he wanted to see first-hand how border agents and officers are faring amid a years-long humanitarian and public safety crisis.
“Currently we have 400 to 500 new people coming in every single day. Yes, it is lower than at the beginning of the year. But let’s not forget that this calendar year” hundreds of thousands of new migrants have come into the country between ports of entry, he said.
Santos, the son of Brazilian immigrants, echoed fellow Republicans’ calls for hiring more border agents, getting U.S. Customs and Border Protection a bigger budget, and he alleged that at least a handful of asylum-seekers in his New York district have been arrested for robbery.
Santos would not answer any questions about his indictment, any other legal issues or the House speaker turning his back on him.
He admitted he did not give the two members of Congress who represent El Paso advanced notice of his trip. But he added he supports an immigration reform bill co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, The Dignity Act 2023, and that he has spoken to U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, about immigration issues in the past.
“I think it’s a great bill sponsored by the congresswoman. I think she’s on the right path along with (Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira) Salazar from Miami. It’s a great start for all of us and we’re going to try to get something on the chopping block,” Santos said.
Santos said he hopes to visit other parts of the border – like California or the Rio Grande Valley of Texas – to get a full picture of the immigration crisis.