Secure border; fix immigration system

By Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-6)

With approximately 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States today, it is clear that our immigration system is broken and in urgent need of repair. Unfortunately, President Obama’s idea of reform includes amnesty. For instance, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an executive branch agency under the president’s authority, recently announced that it will be releasing two thousand illegal immigrants who were in their custody back into the general public.

The United States is a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation built upon respect for the rule of law. Those who come to this country illegally disrespect the sacrifices that millions of legal immigrants have made and place additional strain on already rapidly bankrupting entitlement programs. In total, illegal immigrants cost hardworking taxpayers $113 billion a year. As I have been in our district meeting with constituents and hosting immigration roundtables, I have heard first hand from Tennessee business owners, concerned families, health care professionals and law enforcement about the impact of illegal immigration on our community. 

During the last Congress, I authored legislation that was passed by the House to defund the president’s politically motivated lawsuits against states like Arizona that are simply trying to do the job the federal government refuses to do by enforcing commonsense immigration laws. Most recently, I wrote a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano demanding answers about her agency’s plan to release illegal alien detainees and urging her to reverse this disastrous policy decision. I also recently introduced an additional measure that I am hopeful Congress and the president will support as part of immigration reform: the U Visa Reform Act of 2013. 

Currently, the U Visa program allows illegal immigrant crime victims a temporary legal status in order to assist law enforcement in the prosecution of their assailant. This has helped bring thousands of criminals to justice, but over time it has become fraught with abuse and evolved into a form of backdoor amnesty for essentially anyone who applies.  The U Visa Reform Act would place strict parameters on the duration of legal status for its applicants and will stop the rampant abuses of this program. 

Instead of rewarding those who break the rules, President Obama and Congress need to do their job and enact real reforms—like the U Visa Reform Act—that restore order and commonsense to our immigration policy.