Less than two weeks ago, the U.S. House approved legislation to address the wave of unchecked, illegal immigration at our southern border.
This legislation, which I supported, authorizes the use of National Guard troops to assist in border enforcement, facilitates the repatriation of young people who cross the border illegally, and does so — in contrast to the $3.7 billion immigration spending spree proposed by President Barack Obama — without adding to the burden on U.S. taxpayers.
The legislation also would restore the rule of law to our immigration policy, explicitly denying the president the authority to unilaterally grant amnesty to those in the U.S. illegally.
Unfortunately, the common sense plan adopted by the House cannot become the law of the land until it is concurred in by the U.S. Senate. And a day before the House vote, the Senate — having failed to adopt a plan to address the border crisis — recessed for the rest of the summer. This turn of events would be dismaying were it not so utterly predictable.
Consider the key elements of the House proposal:
■ It provides $694 million for additional border security and immigration enforcement. We simply cannot survive as a sovereign nation if we exercise little or no control over entry at our borders.
Middle- and working-class Americans cannot survive and thrive in a labor marketplace skewed by unskilled, low-wage workers who are here illegally. And our taxpayers cannot bear the burden of providing services — education, health and welfare — to millions of illegals.
Spending in the House proposal is offset in its entirety by reductions in foreign aid (an approach I suggested weeks ago to demonstrate to Central American countries turning a blind eye to immigration enforcement that they should not be rewarded for complicity in the exploitation of their own children).
■ The House bill also provides for an expedited process for the repatriation of unaccompanied children who cross into the United States illegally.
Under the Obama administration’s current interpretation of a 2008 law targeting human traffickers, it can take years to determine if these children and adolescents are eligible for asylum. This approach has clearly failed to curb trafficking, and has been used as a way to avoid deportation by drug smugglers and gang members.
The more humane way to address the needs of these children would be to facilitate immediate reunification with their families in their home countries.
■ Finally, the House legislation would restore Congress to its proper constitutional role as the branch of government responsible for establishing immigration law.
But President Obama, having failed to convince Congress to reform the law in a manner to his liking, has asserted the authority to decide on his own which immigration statutes will be enforced.
The House plan is the kind of immigration policy our citizens have long supported. The current border crisis has confirmed they were right. It’s time for the Senate to listen.
U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, represents Michigan’s 10th District.