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Opinion | Border crisis needs lawful fix, not amnesty

Bradley Byrne

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Decades of bad immigration policies have undermined our laws and led to the worst conditions at our border we’ve ever seen.

U.S. Border Patrol agents have apprehended a staggering 56,278 unaccompanied minors this fiscal year. The Department of Health & Human Services, tasked with housing the largest number of children in its history, had 13,200 minors in custody this month, and they warn they will soon run out of funding for the year.

Yet Democrats refuse to support funding relief. Even the liberal New York Times Editorial Board has called for Congress to act, but House Democrats continue to block bills to provide humanitarian aid for the border.

Democrats seem content with blaming President Donald Trump for the problem instead of providing funding needed to care for unaccompanied migrant children, jeopardizing the health and safety of the very children they claim they want to help.

Not only do we need to address the current crisis, but we must strengthen our laws and change flawed policies drawing undocumented immigrants in record numbers. However, Democrats have other plans.

Earlier this month, House Democrats passed HR6, the poorly named American Dream and Promise Act.  This bill flatly fails to address the escalating humanitarian and national security crisis at our border and, in fact, will make it much worse by incentivizing the continued lawlessness and abuse of our generous immigration system that has resulted in 11 million undocumented immigrants residing in the United States.

This bill will reward approximately 2.7 million individuals who have broken our laws with a pathway to citizenship. This is a fundamental injustice to the hundreds of thousands who are following our immigration laws, spending the time, money and energy to come into this country legally.

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Under this bill, undocumented immigrants convicted of multiple crimes, including multiple DUIs, would be eligible for not only amnesty but American citizenship. Moreover, the limited exclusions in the bill for felonies only apply to convictions. If an undocumented immigrant has been arrested for a heinous crime, they could still be eligible for amnesty. And, while the majority gives lip service to claims that the bill prevents gang members from receiving green cards, the majority intentionally has written the bill in such a way that the provisions will never work.

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The Democrats know these issues, yet they rejected Republican amendments to exclude known criminal gang members, undocumented immigrants with firearm convictions and undocumented immigrants convicted of two or more DUIs from receiving amnesty.

We know from history, when we provide mass amnesty, it only spurs additional illegal immigration into the United States. Without stopping the problem that led to this issue, in another 20 or 30 years we will be back in the same place – faced with providing additional amnesty for a new class of undocumented immigrants.

In his famous pamphlet Common Sense, Thomas Paine said that “in America, the law is king.” John Adams, one of the most indispensable founders of our Constitutional Republic, sought to create “a government of laws, not of men.” If our immigration laws are unjust or, as I believe, inadequate, let’s debate how to change or improve them. But to undermine the rule of law through mass amnesty will erode the very foundation of our Constitutional government, weakening the protections it offers both to Americans and those who will one day gain citizenship. That course of action is not compassionate.

Rather than reward those who have engaged in illegal behavior, we should be working to secure our border, end asylum abuse and close loopholes in our laws that are contributing to the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America.

This bill ignores one of the most fundamental challenges of our time to pander to a political base. The American people deserve better.

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