Regretfully, another week has come and gone without any real progress in addressing the border security crisis and ending the partial government shutdown. As the impasse continues, I want to take time to detail just why it’s so important to secure our border, stem the flow of illegal immigration into our country, and reopen the government, as well as how Congressional Republicans intend to accomplish this.
With weekly jobless claims at their lowest since 1969, our economy continues to thrive under the Trump Administration. This growth has the unfortunate side effect of incentivizing those from other countries to come here – and come here illegally – in pursuit of greater opportunity. The strain on our immigration system starts at the border – frequently being flooded by thousands of people in caravans, who see not only the economic potential available to them in our country, but also our inability to detain and deport them.
However, this issue is not new, nor is it one we’ve been ignoring. In fact, President Trump has put forward a comprehensive platform to reform our immigration system. This includes holding firm to his campaign promise of building a wall, but also limiting chain migration, terminating the diversity visa lottery program, ending funding for sanctuary cities, and making E-Verify permanent, among many other proposals. Simply put, building a wall is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to securing our southern border and reforming our broken immigration system.
For instance, I have put forward a bill that would limit chain migration in favor of a system that prioritizes the reunification of spouses and minor children of naturalized citizens and lawful permanent residents. The Nuclear Family Priority Act would limit family-sponsored immigrant categories to the nuclear family by ensuring that immigrants with distant relatives already in the U.S. aren’t able to jump the line simply because of those familial connections. There is a process in place for newcomers to come to our country – and to do so legally.
These are just a few reasonable measures that we need to take to address the current flaws in our immigration system. First and foremost, however, we must build the wall. Republicans – and, yes, even Democrats – have long been proponents of physical barriers for one simple reason: walls work. In areas where walls, barriers, and fences have been implemented, there have been significant decreases in illegal crossings, drug smuggling, and other criminal activity.
The President has made multiple overtures to our Democrat counterparts and offered a range of possible deals to put an end to what has become the longest government shutdown ever, but those offers seem to fall on deaf ears as the issue deteriorates into an “us against them” political party issue.
I will continue to urge my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, to sit around the negotiating table and stay there until the problem is solved. With the offers that have been made, a solution shouldn’t be this elusive. Negotiating means no one will get everything that they want, but it is also the only path forward to finally secure the border and bring this shutdown to an end.
Jody Hice, a Republican from Greensboro, represents a portion of Newton County in Congress. Online: hice.house.gov.