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Our current immigration system is broken, and the evidence pointing to that is overwhelming.  Currently, there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.  Because these immigrants are here outside the scope of the law, we often do not know who they are or in what activities they are engaged.  In addition, there are immigrants who attempt to come to this country by legal means and find themselves wrapped up in endless paperwork and bureaucracy, and in turn, live in the United States unauthorized.  The result of these failures is a system that encourages people to break the law, and punishes those who follow it.  To be clear, as we work to fix this broken system, I do not support granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.  We need immigration reform that respects the rule of law, and is fair to those immigrants who have played by the rules.

With that in mind, I believe there are four principles that should guide immigration reform efforts.  First, we need to secure the border.  That should be our first priority.  We cannot have a safe and secure country without a safe and secure border.  Second, we need to enforce our laws so we do not repeat the same mistakes made in the past.  Third, we need to encourage legal immigration by implementing a guest-worker program that meets the needs of our economy and attracts the best and brightest to our shores.  And fourth, we need to give people a chance to get right with the law.  We should welcome anyone who is committed to America, but we must always uphold the rule of law—and be fair to those who followed it.

know our borders are not secure – and so do criminals, drug cartels, and potential terrorists.  The surge of illicit traffic across our borders has destabilized communities and damaged our national security.  We must show unwavering determination to fix this crisis permanently.  Our goal is to develop a complete understanding of what is happening at the border, and deploy cutting-edge tools to stop illegal traffic.  We need more than just fencing – we need a strong, multi-layered approach to not only halt illicit activity, but discourage it entirely.  America must send a clear message: any person who tries to enter our country illegally will be detained and face the full force of the law – without exception.

Securing the border is no small task, but it is a fundamental responsibility of our government.  On January 25, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order entitled, “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.”  This executive order states that it is the policy of the executive branch to secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border.  The wall is to be monitored and supported by adequate personnel so as to prevent illegal immigration, drug and human trafficking, and acts of terrorism.

This executive order affirms the intent of Congress and the letter of the law with regard to the construction of such a physical barrier by citing the Secure Fence Act of 2006.  Signed into law by former President George W. Bush on October 26, 2006, the Secure Fence Act of 2006 authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to determine which actions are necessary and appropriate to achieve and maintain control over the borders of the United States – including “physical infrastructure enhancements” and “reinforced fencing.”  It is worth noting that, when this bill passed the Senate in bipartisan fashion on September 29, 2006, former Senator and former President Obama, former Senator Hillary Clinton, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer all voted in favor of final passage.  Congress is currently in the process of considering the appropriation of funds to move forward with enforcing the law and beginning construction of border security measures.

President Trump’s executive order is about keeping Americans safe.  House Republicans are committed to working with the administration to stop the influx of illegal immigration along the southern border, protect our homeland, and uphold the rule of law.

Should you be interested in further information, you may view a summary of one of six policy papers that House Republicans rolled out last year for our agenda, “A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America.” This summary of the A Better Way national security policy paper focuses putting forth a plan to protect America, defeat terrorism at home and abroad, and defend freedom by building a 21st century military, strengthening law-enforcement tools, caring for our veterans, and overhauling diplomacy.  If you are interested in reading the other policy papers on the Constitution, the economy, poverty, health care, and tax reform, you may do by visiting A Better Way.