Right now, parents are sending their unaccompanied children illegally across the borders because they are told that President Barack Obama will welcome them.
Obama’s own executive orders and lax enforcement of our immigration laws has encouraged illegal immigration and contributed to this humanitarian crisis. We now have an influx of unaccompanied children crossing into the U.S. — 52,000 children have been caught crossing the border since October.
Securing our borders and enforcing our immigration laws must always be a priority, period.
That’s why Sen. David Vitter and I introduced legislation to stop the influx of children coming into the U.S. illegally. Our legislation would expedite the deportation process, reform existing immigration laws and send a clear message that illegal immigration will not be tolerated.
This legislation would require mandatory detention of all unaccompanied minors upon apprehension by border agents. It would then place these minors without claims for asylum on a flight to their home countries within 72 hours of processing. Unaccompanied minors affiliated with gangs would be placed in an “expedited” removal process. It would also raise the standards for “credible fear of persecution” for those seeking asylum under the law. All minors would have the option to voluntarily return to their country of origin.
In addition, the bill I introduced would require the Secretary of State to include the penalties for illegally entering the U.S. in broadcast public service announcements in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
But stopping the flood of illegal immigrants is only part of the solution. The other part is the president’s ability to enforce our immigration laws, which clearly has been on the bottom of his to-do list.
During the president’s first four years in office, the average number of unaccompanied children entering the U.S was about 1,000. Instead of working to decrease this number, Obama issued Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in August 2012, which allowed illegal immigrants who fit necessary requirements to stay in the U.S. for two years.
It was around the time DACA was issued that the number of unaccompanied minors began to rise. By May, the number of unaccompanied children entering per month surpassed 9,000.
DACA was supported by memos issued by the Obama administration in June 2011 and June 2012, giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials authority to exercise “prosecutorial discretion,” allowing them to choose who should and shouldn’t be deported.
On top of this, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the U.S.-Mexican “border is secure.”
Louisiana families deserve to know whether our borders are secure and how effectively their tax dollars are being spent on border protection.
Seventeen percent of Americans believe immigration is the most important problem facing the U.S. More than half of Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of the crisis.
We need common sense policies that actually deters illegal immigration, sending a clear message that the U.S. will not provide amnesty — illegal immigration is not allowed.
Rep. Bill Cassidy represents Louisiana’s 6th District in Congress, and he is running against Mary Landrieu for the U.S. Senate. This piece was originally published at the Monroe News-Star.