Georgia's House Republican delegation, including Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08), this week called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to more swiftly implement the Secure Communities Initiative in Georgia.
The call comes after a meeting with ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton in which the delegation pressed for answers as to why Georgia had not been prioritized for the program which allows federal authorities to identify illegal aliens booked into local custody.
"I thank Assistant Secretary Morton for taking the time to meet with us today. Illegal immigration is a growing issue in our state and there is an urgent need for the Secure Communities Initiative to be implemented throughout Georgia. It is my hope that Georgia remains a priority for ICE and that Mr. Morton recommends that the program be implemented state wide as soon as possible."
In addition to Scott's, the following statements were made from fellow Members of the Georgia delegation:
Congressman Jack Kingston (GA-01): "That this program is not already completely implemented across our state is another example of the federal government's ineptitude when it comes to enforcing our immigration law," said Kingston. "Georgia is at the forefront of the problem of illegal immigration. We have the seventh highest population and it's estimated that illegal immigration costs our state $2.4 billion annually. We cannot afford to ignore it nor can we afford the federal government's delays."
Congressman Phil Gingrey (GA-11): "During the meeting with Assistant Secretary Morton, I sought an answer on why Georgia has not seen the Secure Communities Initiative implemented in more than a handful of counties," said Congressman Phil Gingrey of Marietta (GA-11). "The need for broader implementation became even more evident last week when I visited the U.S. border with Mexico. I saw first-hand the efforts to secure the border, maintain operational control of our ports of entry, and decrease the amount of illegal immigrants crossing into the country. I was pleased with the integrity and work ethic of our men and women on the front lines, but simply put, more needs to be done in areas with high levels of illegal immigrants like Georgia and it needs to be done now."
Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3): "I would like to thank ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton for meeting with us today. I had hoped Mr. Morton would have brought us the good news that ICE had decided to speed up the Secure Communities programs in Georgia, however I understand that resources are stretched thin. Estimates put our illegal immigrant population at roughly 6.5 percent of our total workforce and it only continues to grow. We must be proactive in combating the problem of illegal immigration, especially in states like Georgia that are particularly hard hit. I hope that Assistant Secretary Morton takes our concerns seriously and is able to fully activate the Secure Communities program in Georgia as soon as possible."
Congressman Tom Price (GA-6): "The safety and security of Georgia families is of paramount importance. Working together, the Georgia Republican delegation has been diligent in pressing ICE to implement the Secure Communities program in a timely manner. Complete implementation is vital to ensuring we have protections in place for our families, friends and neighbors."
Congressman Paul Broun (GA-10): "According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Georgia ranks seventh nationwide for the largest population of illegal immigrants. Not only does this wreak havoc economically on our social systems, but illegal immigration exposes our citizens to increased criminal activity. Therefore, it is critical that Immigration and Customs Enforcement expedite the full implementation of its Secure Communities initiative in Georgia, and it's critical that they do so now. I thank Assistant Secretary Morton for listening to our concerns. However, I remain insistent that ICE take immediate action to ensure the safety and sovereignty of our nation."
Congressman Tom Graves (GA-9): "I join the rest of the delegation in thanking Assistant Secretary Morton for his attention to Georgia's urgent need for top tier immigration enforcement. In the strongest terms possible, I urge ICE to use its resources to uproot the major hubs of illegal immigration, not just trim the branches. With the seventh largest illegal population in the United States, Georgia's law enforcement officials are on the front lines, and should never have to wait for backup while ICE sends reinforcements to the rear."