Against It Before He Was for It: Ruben Gallego Flip Flops on Measure To Deport Illegal Aliens Who Assault Police Officers

Rep. Ruben Gallego (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
May 16, 2024

As a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Ruben Gallego voted against legislation to deport illegal aliens who assault police officers. But the Arizona Democrat changed his stance on the issue this week, highlighting his shift to the political center amid a tough Senate campaign.

In May 2023, Gallego voted against the POLICE Act of 2023, which would have made "assaulting a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other first responder a deportable offense." Every House Republican and 36 Democrats voted for the measure, though it did not receive a vote in the Senate. But this week, Gallego voted for similar legislation, the Detain and Deport Illegal Aliens Who Assault Cops Act, which requires the Department of Homeland Security to detain and deport any illegal alien arrested for, charged with, or convicted of assaulting cops, firefighters, or first responders.

It’s the latest example of Gallego shrinking from a progressive past that could prove a liability in a statewide race. Gallego, who will face Republican Kari Lake in November, quit the Congressional Progressive Caucus earlier this year, claiming membership dues were too expensive. But his shift is widely seen as a political necessity as voters blame Democratic immigration policies for an unprecedented surge of illegal aliens at the border and a series of high-profile murders committed by illegal aliens.

Gallego, who once called himself a "true progressive voice in Congress," decried Donald Trump’s proposals to build a border wall as "stupid" and "useless." He has been highly critical of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that oversees deportations.

In 2016, he condemned an ICE initiative to deport Central Americans who had outstanding deportation orders against them. In 2018, he threatened ICE employees who carried out what he claimed were illegal deportations. "If you are a US government official and you are deporting Americans be warned. When the worm turns you will not be safe because you were just following orders," Gallego tweeted.

This is not the first time Gallego has expressed conflicting views on an issue. He has criticized his political opponents over their ties to lobbyists, but voted for numerous bills pushed by his wife, a lobbyist for the National Realtors Association, the Washington Free Beacon reported. Gallego divorced his first wife, Phoenix mayor Kate Gallego, when she was nine months pregnant. Gallego is resisting the Free Beacon’s efforts to obtain records of his divorce.

Gallego has not entirely shed his progressive past. He said earlier this year he was "honored" to receive the endorsement of an activist group, Indivisible, which has called to defund police departments and "overhaul and defund" ICE.

"Ruben Gallego has been a loyal backer of the far-left’s pro-criminal, open border policies for years," said Tate Mitchell, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "No amount of election year flip-flops will change that."

Gallego’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.