Weekly Columns

President Trump’s Three-Part Solution to Secure Our Borders

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Washington, January 9, 2019 | comments

On Tuesday evening, President Trump laid out a clear and concise case for why a wall on our Southern border is necessary to deal with the ongoing humanitarian crisis at our border. Immigration is not, and should not be, a partisan issue. While building a wall has recently become a flashpoint for Democrats in our current funding impasse, for years this has been a solution that has received bipartisan support. I thought it would be helpful to explain three policy changes President Trump is seeking to help improve our border security. First, he seeking $5.7 billion to build a barrier along portions of our southern border. Second, he is seeking to create the same rules for individuals who enter the country illegally from Central America that currently exist for those from Mexico or Canada. And third, he is seeking a change to a court decision that prevents certain minors from being returned to their country of origin in a timely fashion. 

I have said this time and time again, the president’s request to fully fund the construction of a physical barrier at our southern border is not only reasonable but completely necessary. In August 2018, when I visited our southern border and asked border agents what they needed, I was told a physical barrier will not only protect them but slow down the flow of illegal aliens crossing the border. In November, over 51,000 aliens were apprehended entering our country illegally. To put this statistic into perspective, there are just 20,000 total border agents across all four U.S. borders; it is easy to picture how this high influx of migrants crossing our border illegally is overwhelming our agents. A physical barrier will help lower the incentive of migrants who think it is easy to cross over; will slow down migrants trying to cross; and give the officers at the border the help and protection they need.  

Another change needed to address the shortcomings of our current immigration policy is to amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), which creates different immigration rules for Mexico and Canada than for all other countries. If an unaccompanied minor is from either Mexico or Canada, they will be returned to the country if the minor is not under threat of human trafficking. The TVPRA mandated that unaccompanied minors from other countries be placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, and then placed in formal removal proceedings. Under current law, the number of people who have tried to enter illegally has caused a backlog in processing migrant children. These minors are making a dangerous journey to our border and risking their lives because of a mistaken belief that they would be allowed to stay and ultimately be granted citizenship. President Trump suggests we amend this law so all countries have the same process as Mexico and Canada, to lower the incentive of illegal migration thus decreasing the number of minors coming to our borders. The most humane solution is to adopt the president’s solutions, so we can ensure these children are returned quickly and safely to their families. 

The President has also called on Congress to change the so-called Flores Settlement, which is a court ruling that prevents unaccompanied children from being kept in custody for more than 20 days. In 2015, a California court expanded this agreement to “accompanied” children who illegally enter the country with their families. To comply with the Flores Settlement, immigrants were being given court dates and then released with a promise to come back. This policy is known as “catch and release.” To comply with the policy, immigration officials must either keep children in custody longer than allowed by the Flores Settlement or separate them from their families so they can be released within the 20-day window.  Dissolving this agreement is key to ensuring no additional family separation occurs. 

We need to reopen the government as soon as possible, but the president is right to insist that as part of the agreement we include critical funding that secures our border and protects American sovereignty. I will continue standing with the president to insist on these commonsense changes.


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