Border security must come before immigration reform

Rep. Richard Hudson

February 13, 2014

I cannot and will not support any type of reform until we secure the border first. I am also strongly opposed to the Senate immigration bill and do not think the House should even start a negotiation with that measure. Border security is the key to effective immigration policy. With more than 11.5 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States, it’s obvious that our current system is broken and in need of reform.

During any consideration of immigration legislation, I have three key principles that I plan to stick to:

First, any effort to fix our immigration system must first start with securing our borders. Enforcement and border security need to be addressed first as part of a common sense, step-by-step approach that focuses on a long-term solution.

Next, any reforms must strengthen the American economy and enrich hard-working Americans. Part of staying competitive is making sure that we’re attracting the best and brightest people from around the world.

Finally, any reforms must recognize that we are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants would be an affront to the millions of legal immigrants and to the citizens of our great country.

Unfortunately, the federal government has not only been unwilling to adequately secure the border, but it has failed in its responsibility to establish and carry out a comprehensive plan to do so.

Since the administration cannot be trusted to carry out this task on their own, I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1417, the Border Security Results Act, which forces the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish a plan that demands results verified by metrics to hold the administration accountable. DHS must report these results to independent agencies to be verified and to ensure that the plan is feasible and fully secures the border. The buck, however, ultimately stops with Congress – DHS must report to Congress every step of the way to verify the plan’s strategy, implementation, metrics and mandated results.

I have also voted to increase funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by $110.6 million, authorize the highest number of CBP and Border Security Officers in history, and to fully fund the mandated 34,000 detention beds required by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

This is not just an immigration issue — it is a national security issue. We must be able to make intelligent decisions about who and what crosses our borders. Establishing a plan that demands results will help keep us safe and will prevent criminals, drug cartels and terrorists from exploiting our porous borders.

As a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, I work every day with my colleagues to fix our border security problem and ensure our Homeland Security agencies have the resources they need to keep us safe. A reform to our system without this critical component is a non-starter for me. While I can’t predict what the outcome of the immigration debate will be, I can ensure you that I’m listening to your priorities at home and sharing them with my colleagues in Washington.