Columns

Enforcing the Law Works

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Washington, April 21, 2017 | Beth Breeding (202-225-5431) | comments
What if the laws governing American citizens didn’t matter? What if instead they were merely suggestions? It’s difficult to imagine what our society would be like if our country’s laws were altogether ignored, but I doubt many would be happy with the result.

Since its founding the United States has been a country of laws. Maintaining the rule of law is a critical part of our society. However, in recent years we have seen parts of America’s immigration laws disregarded. In many cases, President Obama refused to enforce our immigration laws and used his “pen and phone” to rewrite the law on his own. From permitting dangerous sanctuary city policies to allowing criminal aliens to avoid immigration enforcement, collectively these policies encouraged illegal immigration and helped fuel the surge of unaccompanied minors making the dangerous journey to the United States.

Why enforce the law? You don’t have to look any further than crimes that have been committed against American citizens by individuals who are in the U.S. illegally. Recently, a young man from Lynchburg was allegedly murdered by three men involved in gang activity who were illegally present in the country. This is one of many unfortunate examples of crimes that could have been prevented, and my sympathies go out to the families who have experienced these tragedies.

Enforcing the law works. President Trump has sent the strong message that our immigration laws will be enforced and unlawful immigration will not be tolerated. Through his policies, he has empowered Border Patrol and immigration enforcement agents to do their jobs. We are already seeing results. In the first months of 2017, illegal border crossings at the Southwest border dropped significantly. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in March 16,600 individuals were apprehended or deemed inadmissible at the Southwest border, compared to more than 46,000 in March 2016. That 64 percent decrease is not happenstance; it’s a direct result of strong enforcement of the law.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the President to discuss several issues before the House Judiciary Committee, including immigration enforcement. I am encouraged by the commitment of President Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kelly to restoring the rule of law and strengthening the integrity of our immigration system. Congress also has a role to play as many vital reforms can only be accomplished through legislation. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which has primary jurisdiction of our nation’s immigration laws, we will partner with the Administration to improve the immigration system and ensure it works in the best interest of our country.

America has a bright future ahead. Immigrants will continue to play an important role in making our country the diversity rich nation it is today. Enforcing America’s immigration laws doesn’t change that, but it will help stem human trafficking, promote public safety, and strengthen national security and respect for the rule of law.
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