IMMIGRATION LAW ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2006 -- (House of Representatives - September 21, 2006)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Ms. FOXX. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in strong support of H.R. 6095, the Immigration Law Enforcement Act of 2006 and to affirm the inherent authority of State and local law enforcement to assist in the implementation of our immigration laws.
This year, I had the privilege to participate in two Government Reform Subcommittee field hearings in North Carolina on this very subject, one of which took place in my district.
Illegal immigration has consistently been the No. 1 topic prompting my constituents to write and call my office. It is also the No. 1 problem expressed to me by many of the local officials I represent.
In recent years, State and local governments have had to make extraordinary adjustments to accommodate illegal immigration. Over 300,000 illegal aliens are estimated to reside in North Carolina, and that number is increasing. As a whole, our counties and communities, now saturated with illegal aliens, are spending billions of dollars on public health, public education, law enforcement and social services for people who are residing here illegally. Every dollar spent on an illegal alien is a dollar diverted away from a law abiding, tax-paying citizen. Illegal immigration affects virtually every aspect of life in America.
Few States have had to struggle with this burden as much as North Carolina, where the illegal immigration population is rapidly approaching half a million. North Carolina is currently one of the six major destination States for illegal aliens and has one of the five highest ratios of illegal immigrants to legal immigrants. During the 90s, the immigrant population of Forsyth County alone exploded by 515 percent, meaning that two-thirds of the county's foreign-born population had entered in just 10 years.
My State's government estimates that Medicaid costs due to illegal immigration have doubled in 5 years. The State is spending over $200 million annually to educate the children of illegal aliens, more than a 2,000 percent increase in 10 years. Across the State, the criminal justice system is disrupted as courts and law enforcement struggle, particularly in rural counties, to find translators to assist in investigations and court proceedings for foreign-speaking defendants.
Too many stresses and strains are being put on State and local governments at once and there is a clear need for government officials at all levels to decisively reverse these trends.
It is in cities like Winston-Salem, as well as smaller communities, that the presence of illegal aliens who've committed other crimes is most keenly felt. One solution to these dilemmas that has been growing in use since it was first tried in 2002 is known as the ``287(g) cross-designation training'' program. By the authority of section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Department of Homeland Security can enter into assistance agreements with State and local agencies. The 287(g) training and certification gives local law enforcement a vital tool in combating the growing problems from illegal immigration. Many illegal aliens who've committed crimes in America can now be held and processed for deportation or Federal prosecution through use of the 287(g) program. State and local officers can even interview suspects and prison inmates to determine if immigration laws have been violated; they can process and fingerprint them for such violations; and they can prepare documents for deportation and refer criminal aliens to ICE for potential Federal prosecution.
It is the constitutional responsibility of the Federal Government to protect the borders and enforce our laws. Given the scope of the problem of illegal immigration, the Federal Government should move quickly to provide authority to State and local law enforcement to combat illegal immigration. We will never get a handle on this growing problem if we don't.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT