August has begun which means Congress is out of session and I get to spend some quality time working in North Carolina, traveling the district to hear what’s on your mind. I know all of you are oncerned with the situation on our southern border. This humanitarian and national security crisis is a tragic result of this administration’s failure to enforce our nation’s laws.
We have a moral imperative to get this situation under control and tackle the root causes of the problem — not just throw more money at it — so these children do not attempt the dangerous journey to the U.S. border. We may not be able to solve everything wrong with our broken immigration system, but we can use this opportunity to advance responsible policy reforms that address the situation at hand and prevent similar crises from happening in the future. That’s what my House colleagues and I did this week.
While there has been a lot of confusion about the details of the House package, the bills we passed this week strengthen security at the border, deter immigrants from attempting to enter the country illegally, quickly send home those who are here illegally, and prevent President Obama from unilaterally deferring deportations or issuing work permits to illegal immigrants.
H.R. 5230 provides an immediate and targeted response to the current crisis that gives officials on the ground the flexibility and resources they need to get the situation under control and tackles the root causes that have led to this problem. The associated costs are fully paid for by taking money for things like foreign aid to avoid spending new money and potentially wasting taxpayer dollars.
After listening to experts on the ground and officials at the Departments of State and Homeland Security, it is clear that those closest to the problem agree we must make changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. As such, this legislation tweaks the 2008 law so all unaccompanied minors are treated the same as Mexican and Canadian children and can be swiftly sent home. This legislation also institutes a “last in, first out” policy when prioritizing deportations to send a strong message to the families in their home countries that these children will not be allowed to stay.
Additionally, this legislation sends the National Guard to the border to assist our Customs and Border Protection officials so they may focus on their mission of securing the border. It also ends the “catch-and-release” policy so the Border Patrol can actually detain people entering the country illegally instead just letting them go with a notice to appear in court years later. Finally, we close the loophole currently being exploited by the traffickers and allow CBP officials to patrol federal lands.
The House also passed H.R. 5272 to block the administration’s amnesty policies. In 2012, President Obama issued an executive order to create a program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals which allows illegal immigrants who have been in the country since 2007 and arrived here before their 16th birthday to defer their deportation for at least two years while they apply for work permits. It has been widely reported that Obama is considering executive action to expand this program.
H.R. 5272 blocks him from doing this by prohibiting the federal government from expanding the DACA program, authorizing new deferred action programs, or issuing new work permits to illegal aliens.
While there are a number of additional reforms that we should and need to make to completely secure our border and fix our broken immigration system, I’m glad that we were able to advance these responsible solutions to deal with the situation at hand and prevent similar crises from happening in the future. It is now up to Sen. Hagan and her colleagues in the Senate to do their job and follow our lead.
Richard Hudson, a Republican from Concord, represents U.S. House District 8, which includes most of Robeson County.