The humanitarian crisis and national security concerns on our southern border are issues, along with the bigger picture of immigration, that must be immediately addressed. In the 115th Congress, I introduced legislation to tighten our border security, move to skill-based immigration, and reform our loose and often abused asylum process. I will be reintroducing these in the 116th Congress.
I believe in legal, regulated, and appropriate levels of immigration. America has a history of welcoming legal immigrants that integrate into our nation and build families, create businesses, and prosper as members of our communities. Conversely, illegal immigration is a threat to our national security, takes jobs away from our citizens and negatively impacts wages of hard working Americans. Some 40-50% of the people in the U.S. illegally today are individuals who have entered legally and overstayed their visas.
We are sadly lacking adequate visa enforcement. We nonetheless must secure our border and control who enters and leaves, which is a fundamental responsibility of every sovereign nation. We know that a combination of wall, personnel and technology has led to a reduction in illegal border crossings. In San Diego, apprehensions of people illegally crossing the border have declined by 92% in the last 23 years. In Tucson, they have declined by 90% in the last 15 years and in Yuma, over 95% over 9 years.
Democrats in both the House and Senate have voted for these measures at least four times in the last 11 years, so why not
now? Political posturing. It is time to put political machinations aside and solve our immigration problem. I am working to accomplish the goals of securing our border and reforming our visa system. While it is critical that we secure
and enforce our land borders, our air border is a significant risk as well. Congress must also address the asylum process, as many illegal immigrants have used asylum applications without merit as a stalling tactic to delay possible deportation. The previous Administration turned a blind eye to these issues leaving our country with a large number of individuals that we do not know their intent of coming to our country, as well as taking opportunity away from those that do follow the rules.
Illegal aliens who commit crimes in the U.S. should be deported immediately. Sanctuary cities, which provide safe havens for criminal aliens by failing to enforce immigration laws, need to be eliminated. I am committed to strengthening our borders. I have joined the Border Security Caucus and have co-sponsored several pieces of legislation that will help deport criminal aliens and protect American families from harm.
Francis Rooney is the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 19th Congressional District. He is the Vice-Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce. He previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2008.
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