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Mr. BARLETTA. I wish I didn't have to stand here tonight in strong support of this amendment, but the simple fact is that the Federal Government's lack of action made us do this. The Federal Government, through its deliberate inaction for at least the last 15 years, has created this problem, the problem of unchecked illegal immigration.
From the border States to the heartland, from our largest cities to our smallest boroughs, every American has seen the impact of illegal immigration. An underground workforce that takes away jobs from American citizens and our legal immigrants, overcrowded classrooms that make it harder for children to learn, health care systems forced to the brink of bankruptcy because of unreimbursed costs, victims of crimes committed by people who should not even be in the United States.
Local municipal leaders called out to the Federal Government and asked for help. I know because I was one of them. I saw serious problems in my hometown back in 2005. I came here to Washington to ask for help, and Washington turned its back on me and my citizens.
Higher up, State officials across America called out to the Federal Government. They cried out for enforcement of existing immigration laws. They asked for tougher border security. Elected officials at all levels--sheriffs, mayors, Governors, county commissioners, city councilmen, State representatives--all asked for Federal help.
What have they received? More words, more empty promises, more inflated statistics.
So States acted on their own. They acted to protect their citizens. They acted to protect their budgets. They acted to uphold their constitutional duty to the people that they serve. Most importantly, they enacted laws that work in harmony within the existing Federal framework to slow the effects of illegal immigration. Let me repeat that. They enacted laws that work in harmony within the existing Federal framework.
In fact, just about a year ago, across the street from this building, the United States Supreme Court said that the State of Arizona has the right to impose penalties on businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens. In upholding that Legal Arizona Workers Act, the Supreme Court ruled there is a high threshold for striking down a State law on the grounds that it conflicts with a Federal law.
As they take effect, these laws are working exactly as intended, within the federally allowed framework. Illegal immigration is slowing. Illegal aliens are self-deporting.
And what has been the Federal Government's response? To file more lawsuits, more taxpayer-funded lawsuits that attempt to punish States for upholding and working within Federal laws.
So the Federal Government creates the illegal immigration problem through decades of inaction, lax enforcement, and looking the other way. States step in to protect the jobs of their residents, the balance of their budgets, and the safety of their residents. Then the Federal Government turns around and sues the States, sues the States, and they use taxpayer dollars to do it. It's ridiculous. It's unfair.
Instead of using tax dollars to sue States, the Department of Justice and other branches in this government should start focusing on enforcing existing
immigration laws. And until they do, the Department of Justice should not receive one Federal tax dollar to sue States.
That's what this amendment does, and I encourage my colleagues to vote "yes.''
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