Goodlatte: We Must Strengthen Enforcement of Our Immigration Laws
Interior enforcement and border security are vital to enhancing public safety, keeping the door open to law-abiding immigrants, protecting our borders, and restoring the rule of law.Last night, Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, spoke on the House floor with members of the Republican Study Committee on the importance of bolstering enforcement of existing immigration law and securing the border.
Congressman Goodlatte’s remarks on the House floor, as prepared, may be found below. Click here to watch video of the speech.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to discuss the importance of bolstering enforcement of existing immigration law and securing the border. Interior enforcement and border security are vital to enhancing public safety, keeping the door open to law-abiding immigrants, protecting our borders, and restoring the rule of law.
Under President Obama, interior enforcement deteriorated dramatically as his administration refused to enforce immigration laws, rewrote the law through executive action, and implemented policies that enabled millions of unlawful and criminal aliens to remain in the United States free from any possibility of removal.
The Obama Administration’s policies had—and continue to have—disturbing consequences. The rule of law was undermined as hundreds of thousands of Central American unaccompanied minors and families arrived at the Southwest border during the Obama years and were released into the U.S. And too many Americans were killed or seriously harmed at the hands of aliens who joined gangs or committed crimes.
Fortunately, the Trump Administration has begun to reverse the Obama Administration’s disastrous policies and is enforcing the law as written by Congress. President Trump has issued executive orders to strengthen interior enforcement and implement strong border security measures.
The Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security are already executing these executive orders and there have been quick results. Illegal border crossings at the Southwest border dropped dramatically at the beginning of the Trump Administration, due in large part to consistent enforcement of the law and the strong message that the U.S. no longer tolerates illegal immigration.
However, illegal border crossings are rising again despite the best efforts of the Trump Administration, demonstrating that the President should be granted additional, long-needed legislative tools. The House Judiciary Committee has been hard at work to improve our nation’s immigration laws and has already approved bills that are crucial to enable our country to gain control of our immigration system.
The Davis-Oliver Act is the keystone of our interior enforcement efforts and is named after Placer County Detective Michael Davis, Jr. and Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver who were murdered by an unlawful immigrant in October 2014. The bill improves the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws to enhance public safety.
Specifically, the Davis-Oliver Act provides tools to crack down on dangerous sanctuary city policies and contains much needed changes to protect American communities from unlawful immigrants who commit crimes in the United States or are gang members. The Davis-Oliver Act also enhances national security by improving our nation’s first line of defense, the visa issuance process. It provides thorough screening of foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States in order to help prevent terrorists from entering our country.
The bill also ensures the rule of law and removes the ability of any President to unilaterally shut down immigration enforcement by granting states and localities the authority to voluntarily assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law and to enforce their own immigration laws consistent with federal practices.
The House Judiciary Committee has also approved several bills to reform the asylum and refugee programs to curtail rampant fraud while ensuring that our nation continues to be a safe haven for those persecuted around the world. The surge of Central American unaccompanied alien minors and family units seeking to enter the U.S. illegally at our southern border put a strain on manpower and resources. It also exposed loopholes in our nation’s immigration laws that are being exploited by smugglers and others seeking to game the system.
The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act makes a number of improvements to our nation’s laws to prevent fraud and abuse in the system and ensure that asylum is reserved for those truly fleeing persecution in their home countries.
Further, the Protection of Children Act makes sure that unaccompanied alien minors who make the dangerous journey to the United States are swiftly and safely returned home. For those who stay with a sponsor in the United States while awaiting their immigration hearing, the bill provides for greater transparency and safety of these minors to ensure they are not inadvertently delivered into the hands of criminals or abusers.
And the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act reforms the refugee program by curbing fraud and strengthening public safety and national security. It also provides state and local governments the power to decide if refugees are to be resettled within their communities and gives Congress, not the President, the authority to set the overall refugee ceiling for each year.
The House Judiciary Committee also plans to bring up a bill that protects jobs for citizens and legal workers, the Legal Workforce Act. This bill requires all U.S. employers to check the work eligibility of all future hires through the tried and tested E-Verify system. E-Verify quickly confirms 99% of work-eligible employees and takes less than two minutes to use. Over 740,000 American employers currently use E-Verify and 83% of America’s employers support a mandatory electronic verification system.
While many aspects of our nation’s immigration system need to be improved, we must strengthen the enforcement of our immigration laws. Immigration enforcement is crucial to maintain our sovereignty, to protect national security, and to restore the rule of law. I call on Congress to take up the House Judiciary Committee’s immigration enforcement bills soon.