Columns

The First Step in Immigration Reform

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Washington, May 19, 2017 | Beth Breeding (202-225-5431) | comments
In the weeks since President Trump signed Executive Orders making sense of our nation’s immigration enforcement priorities, the combination of revised priorities and actual enforcement has yielded significant results. While some said that trying to control our borders was simply tilting at windmills, the realization that the Department of Homeland Security will actually enforce our immigration laws has made individuals think twice about violating our borders and immigration laws. But these promising signs must be accompanied by Congress providing immigration officers with the additional tools they need to do their jobs.

The Davis-Oliver Act, named after two law enforcement officers who were murdered by an unlawful immigrant in October 2014, was recently introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Raul Labrador. The Davis-Oliver Act delivers the tools needed to enforce our laws in the way Congress always intended, crack down on dangerous sanctuary city policies, and protect American communities from unlawful immigrants who commit crimes in the United States. In an effort to help bolster enforcement efforts, the bill calls for the hiring of an additional 12,500 immigration officers. The Davis-Oliver Act also protects national security by improving our nation’s first line of defense, the process of issuing visas. It provides thorough screening of foreign nationals in order to help prevent terrorists from entering the country.

The Davis-Oliver Act gives states and localities the explicit congressional authorization the Supreme Court requires for them to enact and enforce their own immigration laws, provided that they are consistent with federal law. Real immigration reform needs to have a mechanism to prevent any president, acting alone, from simply turning off the switch on enforcement. This bill ensures that when the federal government fails to act, states can, if they so choose, pick up the slack.

The House Judiciary Committee, which I chair, has already begun consideration of the Davis-Oliver Act, and I look forward to sending this important bill to the House for a vote.

Any immigration reform must start with enforcement. Unfortunately, many families have lost loved ones due to lax immigration enforcement. We are all too familiar with the consequences of turning a blind eye to America’s immigration laws – we’ve seen it in cities like San Francisco as well as communities in our own backyard. Congress has a duty to all Americans to provide the tools necessary to strengthen public safety and the rule of law. The Davis-Oliver Act is not the end of the Judiciary Committee’s efforts to improve our nation’s immigration system, but it is a critical first step.
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