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Bob Goodlatte: House acts to curb border crisis

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bob-goodlatte-afp2Over the last month, the flow of Central Americans attempting to enter the United States along the southern border has not stopped. Young children and teenagers, as well as their family members and other adults, continue to arrive on American soil in violation of the law. In fact, 85 percent of those apprehended illegally crossing our borders now are not unaccompanied minors. Since our immigration laws are so loosely enforced by the Obama Administration, they come here believing that they will be able to stay. Although President Obama already has many tools at his disposal to stop this surge at the border, he refuses to use them and instead proposes to make the situation worse by taking more unilateral actions to stop the enforcement of our immigration laws.

Since the Obama administration has refused to take the actions needed to curb illegal immigration at our border, the House of Representatives acted last week to provide law enforcement agents on the ground targeted resources to assist them in doing their job of securing the border and enforcing our immigration laws. The bill, passed with my support, provides targeted, narrow funding for border security, enforcement of immigration laws, and illegal immigration deterrence through September 30, the end of Fiscal Year 2014, in order to meet law enforcement’s immediate needs at the southern border. The provisions in this bill are paid for through reductions of existing funds and will result in no new or additional federal spending.

While more reforms will be necessary, it does provide law enforcement with many tools they have requested right now. For example, while I was in the Rio Grande Valley last month, Border Patrol agents cited environmental restrictions barring access to federal lands as a significant stumbling block to securing the border. This bill prohibits the Administration from preventing Border Patrol access to federal lands so that they can stop drug traffickers, human smugglers, and unlawful immigrants from exploiting these gaps along the border. The legislation also ensures that all unaccompanied minors receive a prompt hearing and provides the necessary resources to return individuals to their home countries.

Another bill passed by the House, H.R. 5272, freezes the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program. In June 2012, President Obama, without the consent of Congress, declared that certain individuals who came to the U.S. at a young age were eligible to apply for de facto legalization and a work permit. The bill passed by the House prevents the President from expanding this program. While there are varying opinions on immigration issues within Congress, the Constitution clearly grants Congress, not the President, the power to make our immigration laws.

The Obama Administration’s lax immigration enforcement policies have only propelled more people to come to the United States illegally. While the House acted to provide targeted and narrow funding to meet immediate needs at the southern border, it is ultimately up to the President to end this crisis by reversing his policies that created it.

Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District in Congress.

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