The United States is a nation of immigrants and was founded on ideals that honor this tradition. The feedback I hear from my neighbors in south-central Michigan and other Americans is nearly unanimous: our immigration system is broken. I believe it is in dire need of real, lasting reform, and I propose we begin with:
Enforcing the Law
With over 11 million illegal aliens currently living in the United States, it is apparent that we need to do more to uphold our laws. Our current system encourages people to break the law and punishes those who abide by it, ultimately harming both prospective legal immigrants and hardworking Americans. We must empower state and local law enforcement, and equip Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to enforce federal immigration law, and demand that the Department of Justice uphold the laws in place.
In June 2017, I voted in favor of H.R. 3004, Kate’s Law, a bill that prioritizes public safety by enhancing penalties for deported felons who illegally reenter the United States. The bipartisan bill is named after Kate Steinle, who was tragically murdered by an illegal immigrant with a felony record who had been deported five times. The House also passed H.R. 3003, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, with my support. Sanctuary cities needlessly endanger the lives of American citizens by refusing to honor the federal government’s authority to enforce immigration laws and H.R. 3003 deems state or local governments that refuse to cooperate with immigration officials or enforce immigration laws as ineligible for certain types of federal funding.
In September 2018, the House passed H. Res. 1071, a resolution recognizing that allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise, with my support. Federal law prohibits non-citizens from voting in elections for Federal office, and the right to vote should be reserved for citizens.
Securing Our Borders
The crisis on our southern border is a national emergency that Congress needs to address. Failing to secure our borders and ports of entry poses a security risk to our citizens and ignores the rule of law. In January 2017, I supported and the House passed H.R. 505, the Border Security Technology Accountability Act, which make border security technology more efficient. We must also provide law enforcement with the proper training, technology and resources to enforce our current laws and reduce the threat of drugs, weapons, and human trafficking coming across our borders. In December 2019, I voted in support of H.R. 1158, Consolidated Appropriations Act. The funding bill included $1.9 billion for the US Customs and Border Protection’s procurement, construction, and improvements account, including $1.375 billion for the construction of a barrier system along the southwest border.
I have joined my House colleagues in passing commonsense measures to ensure the safety of the American people. In the 114th Congress I helped, H.R. 4038, the American SAFE Act, pass the House. The legislation would require that, in addition to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) screening, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shall take all actions necessary to ensure that each covered alien receives a background investigation before U.S. refugee admission.
Michigan has a long and rich tradition as a welcoming state, and we can provide humanitarian assistance while at the same time prioritizing the safety of our citizens. We need absolute certainty that rigorous vetting procedures are in place and enhanced safety measures are taken to protect the people of Michigan and all Americans.
Cutting the Red-Tape for Legal Immigration
Immigrants who want to join our citizenry should be encouraged and assisted in doing so the same way millions of immigrants have legally done so for generations. We need to create a work permit program that eliminates bureaucratic red-tape and meets the evolving needs of economy, especially our agricultural, educational, and technological sectors. Right now, almost half of the undocumented population are visa overstays, which highlights the difficulty in renewing work visas. Instead of punishing lawful immigrants with a burdensome system, we should instead work towards fostering an environment where employers’ needs are being met by job-seeking, productive individuals who want to work.
Please know I will continue to support measures that honor our nation's founding tradition of legal immigration, secures our borders, and addresses the bureaucratic red-tape which prevents legal immigrants from entering our country and helping to meet our workforce needs.