Ken Calvert

Opinion Pieces

Calvert Op-Ed: Common Sense Immigration Enforcement Needed

Printed in The Press Enterprise

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Washington, D.C., Jul 10 | comments

The city of Murrieta recently had the national spotlight cast upon it. The attention it received was not something the community sought. After all, Murrieta is a thriving community of more than 100,000 people—25 percent of them Latino—where parents are commuting to a job they wish was a little closer to home and planning weekend activities with family and friends.

 

The cause for the attention is rooted many miles away. Immigrants are crossing our border illegally in droves through the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, overwhelming those responsible for securing the border. Instead of taking bold, effective action, the Obama administration is spreading the problem across the country, including communities here in Riverside County.

 

President Barack Obama continues to advocate for an amnesty policy that has been interpreted throughout much of the world as an open invitation to cross our borders without repercussion. Smugglers have developed a sophisticated system for moving illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America into the U.S. Meanwhile, poverty, crime and corruption in Central American countries have motivated many to flee.

 

I am convinced that so many immigrants are crossing into Texas illegally because they believe the Obama administration will not deport them once they are here. How else can you explain the news stories of immigrants walking up to Border Patrol agents seeking to be taken into custody. Border Patrol agents even describe how smugglers have called and instructed them where to pick up the group of immigrants they just transported.

 

Our immigration enforcement agencies detain and quickly repatriate any Mexican national caught illegally crossing the border. However, most immigrants illegally crossing from a Central American country are detained, processed and released after receiving a notice to appear before an immigration judge. Border Patrol agents informally call the paper a“notice to disappear,”knowing that an estimated 90 percent of illegal immigrants never appear before a judge. We must find the means to detain, adjudicate and repatriate Central Americans, unless severe circumstances warrant asylum.

 

I am working with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to provide the resources for an effective strategy in the Rio Grande Valley. If we need more immigration judges, let’s send more judges or appoint new ones. We all believe that while these people are in our custody they must be treated with dignity and respect. The short-term costs to put the brakes on our crisis at the border are far cheaper than the long-term costs of an open borders policy.

 

The border fence we have built in California and beyond has generally been effective, which is why today’s problem is concentrated in an unfenced region of Texas. We need to improve our physical border, including installation of a double-layer fence where possible, but enforcement does not end there. I wrote the bill that created E-Verify, the employment verification system that informs employers whether newly hired workers are eligible for work in our country. It is long past time for the federal government to make the use of E-Verify mandatory for every business.

 

I cannot, and will not, support any broader effort to reform our immigration laws until we establish strong enforcement policies. This current crisis is not because Congress has failed to pass amnesty legislation, it exists because of the failures of multiple administrations to enforce current laws and protect our borders.

 

My constituents are frustrated by the president’s willful disregard for the democratic institutions that are supposed to give them a voice. It is under this context that our community was told that hundreds of illegal immigrants would be transported and released in our region. I believe the biggest concern of my constituents is not that these immigrants want to live in our country, but that if we fail to uphold the Rule of Law, our country will erode into one that resembles the failed governments in the countries that the immigrants are fleeing.

 

America has a proud tradition of legal immigration, allowing 1 million legal residents in annually. However, if we undermine that system, we risk the very foundation of our country—that we are governed by laws, not by men.

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