Mr. Speaker: Wherever I go, people express a growing anger over the illegal immigration that is overwhelming our southern border. People ask me:
• “How can we talk about securing the border in the Ukraine or Iraq while our own border is wide open?”
• “How can we talk about supporting the population of Central America when we’re $18 trillion in debt?”
• “How can we talk about giving jobs to millions of illegal immigrants when fewer Americans are working today than when the so-called recovery began?”
• “If the federal government can’t defend our own border, what good is it?”
Mr. Speaker, I cannot answer them.
The fact is, our southern border IS wide open; it is practically undefended and everybody knows it. The many thousands streaming across it know that if they break our laws and enter the country illegally, they will be rewarded with free food, clothing, housing, medical care, transportation, legal representation and relocation, all at the expense of struggling American families. Ninety five percent of them believe they’ll get “permisso” to stay – and at the moment, they’re right.
Until we fundamentally change that reality, the mass incursion of our borders will continue and our nation’s sovereignty will slowly fade away.
The American people are awakening to the danger that illegal immigration poses to our country. It is crowding out millions of jobs desperately needed by American workers. It is overwhelming our schools, our hospitals, our courts, law enforcement, prisons and our local and state budgets. Perhaps worst of all, it is undermining the process of legal immigration upon which our country is founded. Why should anyone go to the expense and trouble of obeying our immigration laws when they can reap rich rewards simply by defying them?
This administration has actively encouraged this crisis with its promises of amnesty, and it now needs another $4 billion to feed, clothe and house this new surge. Conspicuously lacking from the President’s proposal is any serious effort at enforcement or deportation.
The advocates of illegal immigration tell us we need comprehensive immigration reform, but what they really mean is extending some form of amnesty to those now illegally in our country. Yet it is precisely these promises of amnesty that are causing and encouraging the mass migration we now are seeing.
Any short-term measure this House approves must include provisions:
• First, to rescind the President’s unlawful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order that has clearly encouraged the current surge;
• Second, to detain all of these new arrivals while expedited deportation hearings proceed;
• Third, to provide unrestricted access for law enforcement to all federal lands at the border; and
• Fourth, to activate the National Guard in whatever numbers are necessary to secure our southern border now.
Once the immediate tide has been turned back, it is imperative that existing law are enforced before any new laws are considered, including:
• Rigorous enforcement of sanctions against any employer who hires an illegal immigrant;
• Completion of the border fence authorized in 2006;
• Deportation of any illegal immigrant who comes in contact with law enforcement or who illegally applies for government assistance; and
• Resumption of federal cooperation with local and state law enforcement agencies to assure enforcement of immigration law.
If we are not willing to enforce our current laws, there is no reason to believe that any future laws will be enforced. And until we enforce them, we really can’t accurately assess what changes may be needed.
The people with whom I talk are tired of excuses and tired of promises of future reforms. They want to see our current laws enforced and our border secured and every act of this House should be focused on pressuring the President to do so.
History is shouting its warning at us: nations that either cannot or will not defend their borders aren’t around very long.
Let that not be the legacy of this administration and let it not be the epitaph of the American Republic.
Tom McClintock is a Republican Congressman from California. He delivered this address to the House earlier this year.
Published: Dec. 18, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 36