Columns

Blaine's Bulletin: Secure Our Border

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Washington, January 11, 2019 | comments

Our Founding Fathers correctly believed imposing new laws on the people should only occur after careful thought, rigorous debate, and responsible compromise. When the government is divided between political parties, compromise becomes even more important. Unfortunately, with this current divided government, compromise has taken a backseat to hyperbole and political expediency.

Over the last week Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer have repeatedly disparaged and ridiculed the President and those who seek to protect American citizens. Following President Trump’s Oval Office address this week, Senator Schumer said, “Most presidents have used Oval Office addresses for noble purposes. This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.”

Contrary to Senator Schumer’s unsubstantiated claims, the crisis at the border is not manufactured, but the result of the federal government’s failure to address a growing crisis for more than a decade. In 2009, as a freshman Congressman, I wrote, “We must secure our borders because failing to do so puts our families, communities and our national security at risk. We cannot afford to just sit back and let illegal immigration continue to go unchecked because there is simply too much at stake.” At that time, Senator Schumer and I were in agreement when he said, “Illegal immigration is wrong, plain and simple.”

Back in 2010 I said, “We are a nation of immigrants. We welcome those who come to our country to work hard and become part of the American fabric that has, in the past century, helped make us the most powerful nation in the world. But those who come to this country illegally are putting such a strain on our resources.” I further stated, “At the end of the day, if we are serious about illegal immigration, we must secure our borders and provide our border patrol and other agencies with the resources, manpower and money they need to do that. We must put the onus on the federal government to get its act together and enforce the law. The time for action is now.”

In 2014, halfway through his second term, President Obama gave a speech in the Rose Garden: “We now have an actual humanitarian crisis on the border that only underscores the need to drop the politics and fix our immigration system once and for all. In recent weeks we've seen a surge of unaccompanied children arrive at the border, brought here and to other countries by smugglers and traffickers. The journey is unbelievably dangerous for these kids. The children who are fortunate enough to survive it will be taken care of while they go through the legal process, but in most cases that process will lead to them being sent back home.” Unfortunately, those words were followed by continued inaction, and the crisis continued. Later in 2014, I urged support to “complete the border fence that Congress previously passed into law” and “actually follow through with existing law instead of a ‘catch-and-release’ approach.”

As Missourians know all too well, the dangers of illegal immigration extend far beyond our border states. In 2016, our district was shocked and heartbroken to learn that an illegal alien, Pablo Serrano-Vitorino, murdered Randy Nordman at his home in New Florence while his terrified wife hid in the attic. Serrano-Vitorino entered the Nordman’s home while fleeing a quadruple murder in Kansas City, KS and has a long, documented history of violent behavior. First deported in 2003 after threatening to kill the mother of his three children, Serrano-Vitorino once again illegally crossed our southern border. Even after several encounters with law enforcement in 2014 and 2015 he remained in the U.S. illegally due to weak border security and the immigration policies of the previous administration.  Those policies turned a blind eye to the obvious threats of illegal immigration and cost five American citizens their lives.

After meeting with ICE officials in 2016, I stated, “This case, and the many others like it, is further proof of our country’s failed immigration policies and the unacceptable failure of [Obama] administration officials to enforce the law. We must secure our borders, deport criminals, enforce our laws, and hold officials accountable for breakdowns such as this.”  Unfortunately, from 2009 to 2016 my relentless calls for enhanced border security and dozens of votes for legislation to improve our national security were largely ignored by an administration that refused to enforce existing immigration laws, let alone support strengthening our border security efforts.

The border crisis is not an elaborate ruse, as some would like us to believe, but the result of decades-long policy failures. President Trump’s mission to thwart illegal immigration, gang violence, crime, drugs, and human trafficking is in the best interest of all Americans and long overdue. I support President Trump's action to secure our border and keep our citizens safe, and I thank him for his steadfast determination to complete the mission. After years of empty promises, it is time for my colleagues to set aside the unreasonable demands of a small faction of their party and negotiate in good faith to keep our promise to the American people and secure our border.

As President Trump said to the nation, “This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve.”

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