Like many of you I was very disappointed in the Senate's passage of a 1,200-page, severely-flawed immigration bill last week. House Speaker John Boehner made clear almost immediately that this monstrosity was "dead on arrival" in the U.S. House.
While I don't serve in the Senate and did not have a vote on that bill, my offices have been flooded with calls over the last several weeks urging a vote against any immigration bill that includes amnesty. Sadly, the Senate bill is worse than that. It actually encourages more illegal immigration, making an already bad situation worse.
We only have to look back 27 years to see the results of amnesty without true border enforcement. In 1986, Congress and President Reagan attempted to contain illegal immigration through amnesty and promises of tighter borders, which never materialized. The result was an explosion in the number of illegal immigrants and a border that still has about as many holes today as the Senate immigration bill itself. A porous border, such as we have today, renders any effort to enforce illegal immigration absolutely impotent.
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who stood nearly alone in the Senate in opposition to this deeply flawed bill, observed, "[T]his amnesty-first bill is a surrender to lawlessness... It will decimate immigration enforcement and erode the constitutional rule of law upon which our national greatness depends..."
It is unclear how and when the House will take up its own immigration legislation, but the first priority should be to finally secure our borders. Effectively open borders not only undermine lawful immigration, but they also place our nation at a greater risk of terrorism.
Snapper Season Comes to an End as Summer Begins:
Almost as soon as it began, the Gulf Coast Red Snapper fishing season has come to an abrupt end. You cannot catch a snapper for the remainder of the year -- not because the popular fish are in short supply; they are in abundance -- but due to an arbitrary limit imposed by federal regulators. Two snapper a day for 28 days, that's it.
Beginning on the first of June, federal regulators gave the people of Alabama a mere 28 consecutive days to go snapper fishing. For some of us who aren't lucky enough to live and work on the water, our snapper season actually lasted less than an hour before limiting out and heading back to the dock.
This is certainly not acceptable for anyone who fishes or who runs a business on the Gulf Coast. Unnecessarily stringent restrictions on fishing go far beyond our charter boats, commercial vessels and private anglers. Local bait and tackle shops, gas stations and marinas, boat dealers, restaurants, grocery stores and the hospitality industry all bear the impact of overly restrictive fisheries management policies. Tourists book trips months in advance of the summer season to fish on charter boats, stay in local residences and hotels and eat at local restaurants that all feature Red Snapper on the menu.
In order for us to see any real change in fishery management practices, we need strong and accurate fish population data. The current baseline data used to determine "overfishing" is wholly inaccurate, based solely on dockside counts and effectively ignores Alabama's approximately 20,000 artificial reefs.
Last week the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the artificially short Red Snapper season. Local officials, including Chris Blankenship of the Alabama Department of Conservation, Herb Malone of the Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau and charter fishing owner Susan Boggs testified before the Committee in support of major reforms to the way fishing data is collected and the season is determined. I also submitted testimony calling for reform of federal fishery management.
Earlier this year, I introduced legislation to expand state waters for purposes of fisheries management in the Gulf of Mexico to allow each state, including Alabama, more control over fishing. I believe there is increased awareness in Congress to this problem, and I am hopeful that common sense will soon prevail in regulating Gulf fishing.
Service Academy Applications Deadline August First:
One of the more rewarding aspects of my job is the privilege of nominating South Alabama's brightest young men and women to our nation's service academies.
If you are interested in applying for an Air Force, Navy, Military or U.S. Merchant Marine academy nomination, please contact any of my offices for more information. Or, visit my website at bonner.house.gov to download an application form. Your application must be completed and returned to my Mobile office no later than August 1, 2013.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721.