Like so many other things in Washington, legal immigration by fully vetted immigrants who want to contribute and share in the American Dream has become too difficult. While it is appropriate to vet immigrants in order to minimize the risks of terrorists entering the country under the guise of immigration, some of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services rules and regulations are merely burdensome and nitpicking, thus making the process more expensive, burdensome, and time consuming without providing additional security to those in the United States.
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 240,988 illegal immigrants were encountered at our Southern Border in October 2023. This lack of security on our southern border has become a humanitarian crisis.
Illegal immigrants face the threat of being trafficked and sexually assaulted. There are also legitimate fears, because of past occurrences, that unaccompanied minors will be released to adults who pose a threat to their safety and well-being. During fiscal year 2022, 128,904 unaccompanied minors were referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement – three times the number as in fiscal year 2017.
Mexican cartels are trafficking a record number of drugs across the border and into communities all across our country, including Southwest Virginia. The CBP seized 27,023 pounds of fentanyl during fiscal year 2023. That is a 464% increase from fiscal year 2020. The CPB also seized 140,408 pounds of methamphetamines. Building a wall, in some places a physical wall, but in other areas smart fences and other technology, will help reduce human trafficking and the flow of illegal aliens and illicit drugs that now cross the border with relative ease. We must also make sure that appropriate measures are in place to protect all ports of entry across the country.
I support the use of the E-Verify system. Federal law mandates that employers only hire individuals who are eligible to legally work in the United States. The E-Verify system “compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility."
Fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances continue to flow into the country via the southern border. In 2022, an estimated 110,511 people in the U.S. died of drug overdoses and poisonings, about 70% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. I introduced the HALT Fentanyl Act (H.R.467) to permanently schedule fentanyl-related substances. It has since passed the House of Representatives 289 – 133.
Voted in favor of H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act, legislation to force the Biden Administration to restart the construction of the border wall, deploy needed technology to increase security to both the southern and northern borders, and provide funding to increase the number of border patrol agents. It will also strengthen current law aiming to protect unaccompanied children from human trafficking. H.R. 2 passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in May.
Original cosponsor of Safeguarding Endangered Children, Unaccompanied and at Risk of Exploitation Act (H.R.5415) which requires Federal Government to report on efforts to locate, establish contact with, conduct wellness checks on, and investigate any suspicion of human trafficking related to approximately 85,000 unaccompanied alien children who crossed the U.S. southern border, were released from Federal custody, and with whom subsequent contact has been lost.