By Congressman Robert Pittenger
Senator Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats shut down America’s government over an unrelated illegal immigration issue. This was an egregious affront to the American people, and to our brave men and women in uniform who were required to report for duty with no guarantee of pay.
How did we get here?
According to the Constitution, the U.S. House of Representatives is entrusted with the power of the purse and is responsible for appropriating money to fund the government.
As your Representative in Congress, I read the Constitution and did my job. In September, I helped pass all twelve appropriations bills to responsibly fund the government for a full year. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats didn’t share my passion for responsible governing and blocked these bills, leaving the government unfunded.
Knowing the government would soon shut down, I once again fulfilled my responsibility by helping pass a short-term “Continuing Resolution” to fund the government. Once again, Senate Democrats blocked this legislation, even though it contained nothing they disagreed with!
Thankfully, after three days, Senator Schumer and Senate Democrats came to their senses and kindly voted to reopen the government.
Where do we go from here?
Senator Schumer claims he shut down the government to force action on immigration reform. He ignores the fact that House Republicans have already been working for several weeks on legislation to secure our border and enact other necessary immigration reforms. His made-for-TV shutdown neither speeds up nor changes our ongoing Republican efforts.
There are more than 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States today. Our porous border allows illegal gangs and drugs to enter our country. As Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism, this is especially troubling considering the growing nexus between radical Islamic terrorists and Latin American drug lords. Securing our border and knowing who is in our country are vital national security issues.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is simply a symptom of our broken immigration system. Senator Schumer is offering aspirin, while House Republicans are working to solve the root problem.
The first and most important step is to secure our border, including building a wall along our southern border. Any other immigration reform, however well-intentioned, is doomed to fail unless we can enforce the law and control who enters our country.
The next step is to overhaul our legal immigration system. Currently, the vast majority of legal immigrants are awarded status based solely on family ties. We must end “chain migration” as well as the Diversity Visa Lottery program, which randomly awards visas in order to fulfill bureaucratic quotas. Instead, America should become much more purposeful in selecting visa candidates based on their ability to assimilate to the “melting pot” and contribute to our country. This is not a radical idea. Merit-based immigrations systems are used in many countries, including Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
Finally, immigration reform must not include amnesty. Citizenship should be reserved for those who enter America legally. We are often told that illegal immigrants come to America because of our belief in the rule of law. We cannot disrespect those who follow the process, and trample the rule of law, in any attempt to reform immigration.
Congress is currently considering multiple immigration reform proposals. In the next few weeks, there will likely be even more. As we follow a responsible, orderly process to reform immigration, I will focus on securing the border, ending chain migration and the visa lottery, and upholding the rule of law.
Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) is Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance, and serves on the House Financial Services Committee, with a special focus on supporting small businesses, community banks, and credit unions.