The House and Senate Republicans of the Texas congressional delegation are the latest
contingent to stake out a position on the border crisis as time left to act on the issue before the August recess recedes.
On Thursday, all 26 Lone Star State Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill — 24 in the House and two in the Senate — signed on to a letter to President Barack Obama that lays out actions they want him to take to respond to the surge of child migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. “As members of the Texas delegation, we watch our state endure the impact of illegal immigrant children streaming across our border. Our hearts go out to those who have suffered during their long journeys to the United States,” they write. “But we cannot allow this tragedy to continue. A country that has lost control of its borders has lost control of its future.”
The group wants Obama to, among other things, refrain from issuing executive orders to address various aspects of the nation’s immigration code, on the eve of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s scheduled meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss just that.
Obama’s 2012 executive order to grant stays of deportations to unauthorized immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents, the Texas Republicans argue, “has shielded over half a million illegal immigrants from current law [and] it has sent the regrettable message that illegal immigration will not be punished in the United States.”
They also, in their letter, ask Obama to crack down on asylum fraud, end the “catch and release” policy and expedite removals of immigrants apprehended along the border.
The Texas GOP is laying out its priorities for solving the border crisis the day before the full House Republican Conference is due to huddle for another discussion on a list of policy changes from a special GOP working group and a proposed $1.5 billion appropriations measure to fund those proposals.
Here’s the full text of the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Lamar Smith:
Dear Mr. President,
As members of the Texas delegation, we watch our state endure the impact of illegal immigrant children streaming across our border. Our hearts go out to those who have suffered during their long journeys to the United States.
But we cannot allow this tragedy to continue. A country that has lost control of its borders has lost control of its future.
Mr. President, you have the authority to stop the surge of illegal entries by immigrant minors today. Enforcing current immigration laws will go a long way to solving the border crisis.
We therefore urge you to take the following actions to address the current national security and humanitarian crisis on the Southern Border:
1. Suspend your efforts to issue new Executive Orders that weaken enforcement of our immigration laws. Your Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Executive Order has shielded over half a million illegal immigrants from current law. And it has sent the regrettable message that illegal immigration will not be punished in the United States.
2. End the catch-and-release policy that gives convicted criminal immigrants and illegal immigrants a free pass. Last year, 36,000 criminal immigrants with 88,000 convictions were released from jail to roam our neighborhoods and commit additional crimes instead of being detained and deported.
3. Improve cooperation with local law enforcement agencies so they can help enforce our immigration laws and identify criminal immigrants.
4. Don’t tolerate immigration fraud, which encourages more illegal immigrants to make false claims so they can remain in the United States.
5. Expedite the processing and removal of illegal immigrants who are apprehended at our Southern Border. We can only deter future waves of illegal immigration through swift and certain enforcement of our immigration laws.
Your administration has used existing laws as an excuse for your failure to end the national security and humanitarian crisis on our Southern Border. However, the majority of immigrants apprehended at the border during this crisis can be legally repatriated immediately. Instead, you have permitted almost all to remain in the United States, further encouraging illegal immigration.
Please take the actions cited above to enforce our immigration laws and restore order on the Southern Border. This will save lives and discourage those you have enticed to enter illegally through your current policies.