Immigration Reform & Border Security

Immigration Reform & Border Security

We have an unprecedented humanitarian crisis at our Southwest border. Thousands of Unaccompanied Children (UACs) from Central America have been placed in harm’s way and illegally entering our country by crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, which has created significant strains on our justice system, depleted border patrol resources and could compromise our national security.

The children need to be taken care of while in the U.S., but returned to their own countries as soon as possible. Certainty of return is the only way to stop the wave.

Make no mistake, this is a crisis that has been shaped and exasperated by President Obama’s failure to enforce the law and his constant push to provide amnesty to illegal immigrants.

The Administration’s misguided policies have created the implication that if a child makes it to the U.S. illegally, he or she won’t be turned away.  This is a far cry from the laws on the book—the very laws that many of my colleagues and I have demanded time and time again that the President respect and carry out.

During the Obama administration, deportations of illegal immigrant children have dropped nearly 80 percent. On top of that, the President has continually circumvented congressional efforts to find real solutions. Instead, the President allows illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. through administrative amnesty programs such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which he unilaterally started after Congress rightly rejected the misguided DREAM Act.

Now, the President is essentially asking for a blank check to address the crisis. Congress must respond by using the power of the purse to stipulate specific reforms be tied to this funding and move forward in a responsible manner.

Specifically, we must thoughtfully rewrite provisions of a 2008 law intended to protect victims of sex trafficking to give flexibility to the Administration to address the UAC crisis. This law gives additional protections to children from non-contiguous nations (countries other than Mexico or Canada) who enter the U.S. alone, including the opportunity to appear at an immigration hearing with counsel, placement in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the possibility of reunification with family members in the U.S. It was passed by Congress and signed into law with the intention of providing sanctuary to victims of sex trafficking, not as a means of encouraging massive waves of illegal immigrants to flood our already burdened immigration system. The process can take years, and as recent history has shown, more often results in UACs staying in the U.S. rather than being sent to their home countries.

These requirements must be rewritten so we can accelerate the deportation process for those to whom it was never meant to apply to—i.e. this current rush of unaccompanied minors.

But we must also look at the root of the problem, which is the porous nature of our borders.

Due to years of inaction on the part of the federal government, our country now faces an illegal immigration crisis. Federal laws go unenforced, leaving cash-strapped state and local governments to fend for themselves. When state governments take steps on their own to fill the void created by Washington, they are often met with resistance from the Obama administration.

Making matters worse, the President constantly speaks of his desire to offer amnesty to illegal immigrants. Amnesty is not an option. We must not reward people for breaking the law. I firmly believe that anyone seeking to become a citizen should do so legally. We are a nation based on laws and those laws must be respected.

The real solution starts with working with Congress to secure our borders. We must stop allowing individuals to enter the country illegally without recourse. We must hold those who break the law accountable.

Securing the borders requires that we allocate the resources, surveillance technology and manpower necessary to ensure that individuals crossing our borders are doing so legally. At a time when our nation continues to live under the threat of international terrorism, it is of the utmost importance that we strengthen border security. By starting here, we will prevent millions of illegal immigrants from infringing upon every legal citizen’s right to pursue the American dream. Most importantly, no immigration reform policies we pass will be effective until we secure the border. Adding more rules to the books without enforcing the ones we have will do little good in the long run.

We are a nation of immigrants and must remain welcoming to those who want to achieve the American Dream. However, it is vital that we enforce the law and ensure the safety and security of our nation. We must look to forward-thinking solutions to our problem with illegal immigration, not the failed policies of the past.

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