Our immigration system is broken. I support legal immigration, but we cannot continue to overlook the problems associated with illegal immigration, including the strain it places our nation’s financial resources. The federal government must secure our borders, address illegal immigrants already living in America, and prioritize merit-based immigration for legal immigrants. Commonsense steps that will improve our immigration system include ensuring our farms continue to have the workers they need to put food on our tables, expanding E-Verify to give businesses the tools they need to comply with the law, and giving priority to immigrants based on the skills they will provide to our country instead of meeting a geographic quota.
We need to address the loopholes in our immigration laws that are largely responsible for the surge in illegal border crossings and reported separation of families at immigration facilities along the U.S. – Mexico border. Two loopholes that are in most dire need of a fix are the 1997 Flores Settlement and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which provide an entirely separate legal process for addressing minors who cross the border illegally. These policies result in adults and minors being separated after illegally crossing the border. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 586, the Fix the Immigration Loopholes Act, which was introduced by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), which would close these loopholes.
As a member of the Immigration Reform Caucus, I do not think we should reward those who illegally reside in America, and I reject efforts to provide amnesty to these individuals. I am also adamantly opposed to providing federal benefits to illegal aliens.
Building the Wall
I have long said the first step to fixing our broken immigration system is border security. I believe the president’s request for $5.7 billion to continue constructing a physical barrier along our southern border is both entirely reasonable and necessary for our security, and I have supported several bills that include funding to continue building a wall along that border.
I voted for two spending bills that provide a total of $2.94 billion toward constructing the wall in Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 18) and FY 19. I also agree with President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency to address the crisis. On February 26, 2019, I voted to support President Trump’s national emergency declaration by opposing a resolution, H.J.Res. 46, to block the president’s national emergency from going into effect. After the resolution passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 245 to 182, and passed the Senate, President Trump vetoed the measure. I voted to uphold the veto on March 26, 2019.
The president has cited the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which authorizes him to redirect existing federal dollars to secure the border, including up to $3.6 billion from existing military construction funds and as much as $2.5 billion from the Department of Defense’s Support for Counterdrug Activities. The current situation at the border presents a real security and humanitarian crisis, and I agree with President Trump’s decision to issue a proclamation declaring a national emergency at our southern border.
DACA and Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Last Congress, I was a proud cosponsor of H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act, and voted for this legislation on June 21, 2018. This bill would provide funding for a wall at our southern border; expand E-Verify; end catch and release; replace the visa lottery program with a merit-based green card program; withhold federal grants from sanctuary cities; remove aliens who are engaged in gang related activities; and resolve the legal situation of immigrants who were brought here at a young age illegally but have grown up in America – also known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
While this bill did not pass the House, I believe this bill contains policies that members of both parties should support. Specifically, this bill fulfills every one of the Trump Administration’s four pillars for immigration reform: securing the border, ending chain-migration, ending the Diversity Visa Lottery, and resolving the legal situation for DACA recipients. I support the Trump Administration’s four pillars, and I am hopeful that the House will continue to work on a solution to our broken immigration system similar to the Securing America’s Future Act.
Unfortunately, instead of providing funding to secure our border, Democrats passed H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, by a vote of 237 to 187 on June 4, 2019. I voted against this bill when it passed the House because it will only incentivize more illegal border crossings, putting more families at risk while making a dangerous journey to our border, at a time when our facilities and border personnel are overwhelmed. The bill completely ignores border security and would instead provide amnesty to over 2.3 million illegal aliens – three times the number of DACA beneficiaries. Worse, this legislation would allow any alien with up to two misdemeanors, multiple DUI convictions or misdemeanor firearm offenses to receive green cards while simultaneously prohibiting the use of gang databases to identify those connected with gang activity, leaving a loophole for gang members to gain legal status. This sends a clear message that Democrats in Congress no longer believe we should enforce our nation’s immigration laws. This is immoral, and it is wrong.
I am a cosponsor of H.R. 3000, the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act. This bill, introduced by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), cuts off federal development funding grants for jurisdictions that have policies in place that prohibit or restrict communication with the Department of Homeland Security regarding an individual’s citizenship or immigration status. While we can and need to do more to address this refusal to enforce the law, this bill is an important first step to end sanctuary cities and send a clear message that immigration reform must begin with a commitment to the rule of law. If we are willing to allow cities to decide for themselves whether they will abide by our immigration laws, how can anyone trust that laws meant to secure our borders will be effectively enforced?