STEPS TO STOP THE BORDER CRISIS


Date: July 11, 2014

By: Bob Goodlatte

Over the last several weeks, the surge of children, teenagers, and families – largely from Central America – attempting to enter the United States illegally has continued to grow.  On July 2nd and 3rd, I led a bipartisan group of Members of Congress to the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border to survey the situation firsthand.  After meeting with officials, touring several federal facilities, and patrolling with Border Patrol agents along the Rio Grande River, it was clear that the Obama Administration has allowed a serious national security and humanitarian crisis to develop on our border.  

The failure of this Administration to enforce our immigration laws has lead to a disaster of President Obama’s own making. Now, he has asked Congress for a whopping $3.7 billion in additional funding without accountability or a plan in place to actually stop the border crisis. No amount of resources will be effective in stemming the surge of illegal border crossings if he continues to ignore the law.

President Obama has many lawful tools at his disposal right now to stop the surge of illegal immigrants at our southern border and he should act on these immediately. One step would be giving Border Patrol agents access to federal lands, such as national monuments and wildlife refuges, along the border, which are currently restricted due to strict environmental rules. As a result, federal lands along the border provide drug traffickers, human smugglers, and illegal immigrants effective routes and hiding places where authorities cannot reach them.  The Administration should also restore agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies to help enforce immigration laws and relieve some of the burden on overwhelmed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.  

Additionally, the Administration should crack down on false asylum claims and implement tougher standards for “credible fear” claims, or those who claim a “well-founded fear of persecution” in their home country when trying to enter the U.S.  According to a Department of Homeland Security report, at least 70 percent of asylum cases contain proven or possible fraud.  Failing to stop these cases only encourages more people to come to the U.S. and make similar claims. Along the same lines, the Administration could deter false asylum claims by detaining these individuals while the government determines whether their case is legitimate, rather than what are now essentially “catch and release” policies. The Administration also needs to stop releasing convicted criminal aliens from detention. 

Furthermore, President Obama needs to demand that the Mexican government help stop this surge through Mexico and secure their southern border with Guatemala.  He also needs to work with the Mexican government and the governments of Central American countries to discourage their citizens from making the journey northward. 

As was evident on my recent trip, the cost of inaction is significant.  I encourage President Obama to step up and lead by sending a strong, public message that those who enter the United States illegally will be returned to their home countries and that subjecting children to this dangerous journey will no longer be tolerated.  These actions, which are within his legal authority right now, would send the message that the United States is serious about enforcing our immigration laws.

CONGRESSMAN BOB GOODLATTE
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