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H.R. 2217, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Chair, I rise in support of very important report language included in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which will sustain inland Border Patrol stations in states along our nation's southern border.

In 2012, the U.S. Border Patrol proposed to close nine interior Border Patrol stations as part of a cost-savings proposal. Six of the nine proposed closures are located in Texas, including one located in my district in the city of Amarillo. The U.S. Border Patrol made this announcement without first ensuring that local law enforcement agencies will have the necessary resources to deal with the serious illegal immigration problems in our area. The inland stations proposed for closure apprehend hundreds of illegal aliens every year. If these closures are allowed, several hundred illegal aliens would have to be let go due to the lack of federal presence.

Since the proposal was unveiled last year, I have repeatedly heard from numerous local law enforcement officials who have serious concerns about the detrimental effect this would have on our local communities. They also believe this impact could reverberate throughout the country.

You do not have to be on--or even near--the border to see and feel the effects of illegal immigration on our local communities, and that is something we want to make sure the folks in Washington understand. Enforcement of our immigration laws does not stop at the border. Interior enforcement is essential as well. The Supreme Court has confirmed that it is the federal government's job to enforce these laws.

The Border Patrol cited ``cost-saving measures'' as a reason for this proposal, but it is simply penny-wise and pound-foolish. Although the agency anticipates closing these nine stations could save $1.3 million, they admit it will cost $2.47 million to transfer all the agents to other stations.

When I first brought these concerns to the U.S. Border Patrol, I was told time and time again that the agency was working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop a transition plan to ensure that someone from the federal government will be there to pick up the phone when local law enforcement needs their help. To date, I have seen no evidence of a viable plan. There appears to be no draft plan or even an outline of a plan. There are simply too many unanswered questions to allow these inland border patrol station closures to proceed.

Any country must be able to control who and what comes across its borders. A government that cannot or will not do so fails in one of its most basic responsibilities.

I would like to thank the Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee Chairman Carter for including this important language. I look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that our country is not left with a gaping hole in the enforcement of our immigration laws.


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