TAKING STEPS TO SECURE OUR BORDERS
The recent tragic murder of Houston police officer Rodney Johnson by a previously deported illegal immigrant has again brought the immigration debate to the attention of the nation. This horrific event is further evidence that our current immigration enforcement system is not working and unless we take action soon, the security and safety of all citizens remains at risk. We must ask ourselves what can be done to prevent senseless tragedies like this one from happening in the future. The confessed killer, Juan Leonardo Quintero, was deported in 2004 after being convicted of child molestation, yet he returned, found a job and a place to live, and after being stopped and arrested for routine traffic violations, he needlessly took the life of Officer Johnson, an upstanding public officer.
Illegal immigration not only costs taxpayers billions of dollars every year, it also takes jobs away from law abiding Americans and makes a mockery of our justice system. An estimated 8 million illegal aliens are living and working in the U.S., and more arrive daily.
I am happy to report that the House recently passed three bills, the Community Protection Act, Immigration Law Enforcement Act, and Border Tunnel Prevention Act, to speed up the removal of illegal immigrants and increase border security. These bills would help bolster our border security by increasing detainment periods for dangerous illegal criminals; streamlining the process of deporting illegal criminals; and imposing tougher punishments for those involved in smuggling illegal aliens across the border.
There is still much to be done to completely solve the nation's illegal immigration problem, but we are taking steps in the right direction. The fight against illegal immigration begins at the borders, and these bills will make it easier to punish those who continue to flaunt the laws of our country. The voluntary enforcement legislation, specifically, gives threatened state and local law enforcement jurisdictions more control over identifying and removing illegal aliens. The Border Tunnel Prevention Act creates penalties for those involved in the construction or financing of border tunnels used for smuggling not only illegal aliens, but other dangerous items like drugs, weapons, or terrorists.
We recognize that the current immigration policies and enforcement are not working and we are taking steps to correct those problems with sound solutions. It is my hope that the Senate will act quickly to pass these House bills so that our law and border enforcement officers, and local and state governments can be better equipped to address this issue. By working together to crack down on illegal immigration, we can work to better ensure the safety of all our citizens.