Republicans Hold Immigration Fire
House Republicans, some of the loudest critics of the nation’s immigration policy, said Monday that closing the border would not resolve the swine flu pandemic.Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, said the administration was right not to make a drastic decision such as closing the border and praised the response so far. “The administration has actually responded to his in a very conservative and moderate way,— Bilbray said. “They are holding off on nonimmigrant visas from Mexico and not overreacting.—Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said border closure would do nothing to stall illegal immigrants from coming into the United States. “If we decide to close the ports of entry, the only things that will be coming across the border are illegal [immigrants] and drugs,— he said.King said it was important not to overreact to the pandemic, citing the bird flu scare several years ago. “Give me some medical data to go on,— he said. “We all just need to stay calm.—Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said the outbreak did increase the urgency for securing the border but stopped short of calling for an all-out shut down. “Until our borders are secure, we remain unable to fully control who is entering the country,— Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper said. “Under the current circumstances, serious consideration should be given to restricting cross-border traffic until the swine flu is adequately contained.—Their temperate answers sounded strikingly like those of Democrats, who were also urging the public to remain calm and cautious as the Centers for Disease Control tried to determine how many people in the United States have been infected with the illness that has caused the deaths of 149 people in Mexico.Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) said border closure was “unrealistic.—“Not only is it complicated but would cost the United States millions of dollars in trade and commerce,— she said in a statement. “Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has made it clear that closing the border would only be an option if it were a realistic hope of containment, which is certainly not the case.—Napolitano said at a press conference Monday that closing the border wouldn’t necessarily curb the spread of the disease, which had already made its way into the United States. “You would close the border if you thought you could contain the spread of disease, but the disease is already in a number of U.S. states,— she said, adding that the government-issued flu warnings were an appropriate precaution and stressed that the country was in preparation mode should additional cases begin to occur within the United States.