Weekly Columns

We have an unprecedented humanitarian crisis at our Southwest border. Thousands of children from Central America have been placed in harm’s way to illegally enter our country alone. This 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 shut the wave off.

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 that makes it to the U.S. illegally won’t be turned away. 

During the Obama administration, deportations of illegal immigrant children have dropped nearly 80 percent. On top of that, the President has continually circumvented efforts to find real solutions. Instead, President Obama 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.

In June, I joined bipartisan efforts urging the President to send a clear message to those seeking entry to the U.S. illegally that they will not receive special treatment when it comes to enforcing our immigration laws. The letter, signed by more than forty of my Senate colleagues, requests that he clarify our laws with Central American heads-of-state.

I also cosponsored a Senate resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that President Obama should take immediate action through five concrete steps to resolve the situation and prevent future crises. These steps include providing states impact by this surge of illegal immigrants with the resources they need to address this ongoing crisis and working with Mexican and Central American officials to improve security at the Southern border of Mexico.

Additionally, we must revise a 2008 law intended to protect victims of sex trafficking so it gives flexibility to the administration to address this crisis. This otherwise well-intended law gives additional protections to children from non-contiguous nations (countries other than Mexico or Canada) who enter the U.S. alone, which again, is meant to protect victims of sex trafficking. It was never designed with a crisis of the sort that we are experiencing right now in mind.

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

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. We are a nation based on laws and those laws must be respected. 

As a member of the Senate Border Security and Enforcement First Immigration Caucus, I am committed to working with my colleagues to resolve this crisis. The money, requested by President Obama, should not be granted unconditionally. I will work to ensure that real reform is part of the solution.