Weekly Columns

President Trump called on the Department of Homeland Security to redouble its efforts to enforce immigration laws. It comes as no surprise that this has resulted in increased arrests of individuals in the country illegally and historically low levels of illegal border crossings. On our southwest border, there has been a 64 percent decrease since May 2016. Having consequences for breaking our laws is a deterrent.

This is a welcome change from the policies of the previous administration that allowed federal immigration laws to be ignored and limited the crimes for which a non-citizen could be held accountable. Undermining our immigration laws is a threat to the safety of American families and communities. Unfortunately, it’s become too common with ‘sanctuary cities’ purposefully protecting illegal immigrants, including those who are violent and dangerous criminals. Congress is rightfully taking action to force compliance with the laws. 

The Senate’s Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act would restrict federal funding from sanctuary communities that fail to comply with the law in an effort to encourage them to eliminate these dangerous policies and allow local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration officials.  

Kate’s Law is legislation named for Kate Steinle, a young woman who was murdered in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant who was supposed to be behind bars. The bill would establish a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for illegal immigrants who are found guilty of reentering the U.S. after being convicted of an aggravated felony or being convicted of having illegally reentered the U.S. twice before.

I’m a proud cosponsor of these bills and was pleased to see that the House of Representatives recently approved them. I encourage my Senate colleagues to follow suit.

As chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, I’m working closely with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure it has the funding and manpower it needs to enforce our laws, decrease border crossings and protect our Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers.

These agents undergo rigorous training to protect our borders. Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to experience some simulated real-life scenarios these agents face at a training facility in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. It is one of six Advanced Training Centers in the country that prepares agents for situations they could encounter on the job.

As we look for ways to improve border security with technology, barriers and infrastructure, it’s important that we provide CBP and ICE with the tools and resources they need to safeguard themselves and our country. 

We are a nation of laws and it’s right that we hold those who break our laws accountable. I look forward to working with the president to enhance border security, ensure proper vetting for immigrants coming into our country and reforming our nation’s immigration policy.