The first duty of the government is to protect its citizens. The ripple effect is a strong and safe America leading to a stronger and safer world. But in recent years, our federal government has abdicated its most critical responsibility and our communities are suffering as a result. As Arizona’s next Congressman for District 4, my commitment to border security and immigration reform goes deeper than rhetoric. I have an eight-point plan to secure our border and reduce the scale of illegal immigration so we can actually enforce our laws and make the critical reforms that have been impossible to implement due to the overwhelming nature of this problem.
1. Seal the Border
The sheer scale of illegal immigration is overwhelming our system and laws. Barriers and tough public policy go hand-in-hand. It is madness to expect to fix our system and enforce our laws before our border is under control. It’s also difficult to seal the border without policies that discourage migrants from reaching the border in the first place. As of October 2023, there were 706 miles of border wall along a 2,000-mile U.S./Mexico border. While physical barriers are not always possible or best given the terrain and other factors, we have a variety of technological tools at our disposal including video surveillance, drones, biometrics, and underground cameras and sensors. Even the Biden Administration reluctantly has admitted the need for border barriers in certain places as “acute and immediate.” We must commit to sealing the entirety of the southern border.
I will work on legislation to fully fund a 100% sealed southern border, through physical and technological means, with the CBP staffing and empowerment necessary to achieve that.
2. Reclaim Congressional Constitutional Authority
Congress should set immigration policy, not the President. The Constitution grants Congress the power to make all laws, including the “rule of naturalization,” and the Supreme Court has consistently affirmed Congressional authority to set immigration policy. But over the last fifty-plus years Congress has ceded more and more of its authority to the Executive, with disastrous results. President Biden has used and abused the “parole” power to admit over half a million illegal immigrants into the United States, and to give protection to hundreds of thousands more who are already here illegally. The parole power was originally established in 1952, and then amended in 1980 and again in 1996. Parole is meant to be used for “urgent humanitarian” or “significant public benefit” reasons – and determined on a case-by-case basis. But the Biden administration has played fast and loose with these requirements. Clearly, the power is still too broad. It’s time for another act of Congress to amend and tightly restrict this runaway power and other vague loopholes. Congress has already delegated too much of its constitutional authority to other branches. It’s time to take it back.
I will spearhead legislation to reclaim congressional constitutional authority in immigration policy.
3. Intensify Vetting
Today, due once again to the sheer scale of the immigration crisis, vetting of migrants has been all but abandoned. Migrants can walk across the border with little or no documentation making claims that are difficult to verify. Even the more robust vetting once in place for migrants from threatening countries has been largely suspended. We must establish and follow a more intense vetting process for migrants, in concert with the other elements of this plan (without which, more robust vetting will be difficult if not impossible to achieve). Vetting should be implemented for two reasons.
First, for security reasons. We must know who is coming into this country, and if they mean harm to us. This fiscal year, 169 people from the United States’ terror watchlist have been apprehended at the border, with over 350 apprehended since President Biden took office. This is up from 98 in 2022 and 15 in 2021. Some have tried to downplay this number as a small percentage of the total, and it is. But all it takes is one terrorist to wreak havoc, tragedy, and loss of life. We simply don’t know how many have slipped by us unnoticed. And this doesn’t account for those who aren’t on any lists, but sympathize with ISIS or other radical terrorist groups and immigrate with disdain for the West. Europe has experienced terror attacks by just such individuals, who were never on a list. FBI Director Christopher Wray recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives that the possibility of a terror attack on our soil is the highest he has seen.
Second, immigrants coming to reside in or become citizens of the United States should want to be Americans. We need to vet against anti-American ideologies, including adherence to communism, certain political parties, fascist parties, the Muslim Brotherhood, National Democratic party of Egypt, Assad’s Baath party in Syria, and many others. But we also need to vet for willingness to embrace western core American ideals, including economic freedom, religious freedom, and the existence of God-given human rights. These are the principles of Americanism that have made us the last best hope of mankind and that have attracted millions of migrants. We must vet to determine whether the values held by potential residents and citizens are compatible with Americanism, or destructive to it. America is, at its core, an idea and a social commitment to certain freedoms and shared values.
I will work on legislation to create and implement a robust vetting process for all migration into the U.S.
4. Require Asylum Claims to be Made Outside the U.S.
A legitimate asylum claim is reserved for migrants facing persecution or a credible fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. I know, because my own parents fled Syria for that very reason and received asylum. But that claim is being widely abused – and our federal government is inviting it. Courts are overwhelmed and migrants who claim asylum are being issued notices to appear and then released into the country. Meanwhile, many asylum seekers have passed through multiple countries – including Panama, Costa Rica, Belize, and Mexico – who could have granted them asylum before they ever reached the United States. Mexico is the #3 recipient of asylum requests after the U.S. and Germany. But solving this issue will require multiple steps. Some of the Biden administration’s piecemeal efforts to address the wave of asylum seekers were struck down by a federal judge, citing U.S. law that anyone can seek asylum, regardless of their current status or how they arrived in the country.
The steps to asylum reform must begin with amending the broadness of federal asylum law. An effective law would require asylum seekers to apply for asylum and have the claim initially reviewed before entering the country. It would require those who pass on land through countries with asylum policies to produce proof that they have applied for asylum and been rejected by each of those countries. Those who enter illegally and then wish to claim asylum must cross back over the border into the nearest country with a U.S. Embassy to begin the application process. For severe circumstances where an immigrant cannot leave the U.S. without endangering his life, exceptions must be carefully and specifically written and require a high standard of proof. Asylum is a critical avenue for offering refuge to the politically and religiously persecuted. But without reform, it cannot do that and simply becomes another overwhelmed avenue for illegal immigration – hurting the very people it was created to help. If asylum becomes meaningless, so too does Americanism.
I will work on amending federal asylum law to ensure it allows refuge for only – and all – those facing persecution.
5. Deport Biden’s Illegals
There have been over 6.2 million illegal border crossings since President Biden took office. These migrants were invited by the administration to cross illegally. Many were released into the country with notices to appear and given cover through Biden’s abuse of the parole power. The impact on our communities has been stark, fueling our drug crisis, draining economic resources, and diverting law enforcement. The illegal migrants who arrived under Biden need to be deported as quickly as they can be identified. They will have been here for at most four years and have not yet established themselves in the United States. To begin to get the crisis under control and preserve limited resources, deporting Biden’s illegals is a critical first step. This must go hand in hand with increasing self-deportation and using the bully pulpit of elected office to further deter new illegal migration.
I will support a policy of deportation for all illegal migrants allowed into the country under President Biden’s abuse of power.
6. Increase Self-Deportation by Enforcing our Laws
Some illegal migrants will choose self-deportation or be forced out of the shadows, should it become more difficult to live illegally in the United States. While much of the policy governing illegal immigrants is determined state-by-state, it is in the interest of the federal government to encourage tougher enforcement. States should be incentivized to strengthen employment laws governing the hiring of illegal immigrants (like mandating e-verify), prohibit IDs, and get tough on banking enforcement, as a starting point. If we can encourage some illegal migrants to self-deport, it will continue to open up resources and relieve law enforcement. This is to the benefit of both American citizens, and legal immigrants who deserve access to resources and support as they begin their lives in America.
I will work on legislation to incentivize states to toughen laws identifying and governing illegal immigrants and ensure agencies have the resources to enforce existing laws.
7. End Sanctuary Cities
Regaining control of our border and our immigration system will require cooperation across states and cities. Sanctuary cities work in direct opposition to that goal, setting themselves up as shelters from the law instead of partners in our shared goals of safety, security, reduction of illegal immigration, and reform of our immigration system. Twelve states are home to approximately 200 sanctuary cities and counties (including New York, LA, Chicago, and Philadelphia). We must crack down hard on sanctuary cities by implementing federal laws that penalize and disincentivize cities from taking this step. All possible penalties must be on the table as we look to put an end to havens for lawlessness. This will also be critical to increasing the number of self-deportations.
I will lead legislation to crack down on sanctuary cities and ensure heavy penalties for any state, city, or county that shelters lawbreakers.
8. Use the Bully Pulpit of Leadership
The messages from our leaders have power in affecting outcomes. President Trump’s clarity and repetition on illegal immigration significantly reduced illegal crossings. They fell to less than a quarter of what they have been under President Biden and we were safer than we are today. History offers other examples. Ronald Reagan clearly and repetitively called the USSR the “evil empire” starting in 1983 and by 1989, the Berlin Wall was coming down. Then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani started reducing crime in New York City with the mantra, “you break a window, we will arrest you.” Words matter in the setting of public policy and in using the bully pulpit of leadership. We know this bully pulpit works. I will use my platform in Congress to send a persistent message to those wishing to immigrate to America. They should hear it daily. Congressman Stanton has failed miserably to use his bully pulpit and has not only been a rubber stamp, but the weakest of the weak in protecting our district, which is barely 200 miles from the border. It is here in the U.S. that you can experience the American dream and unbelievable freedom not found anywhere else in the world. But only come here if you are ready to do so legally, to adopt our values, and to agree to the American social contract of economic freedom, religious freedom, and God-given human rights.
I will use my voice and leadership to set a narrative of respect for Americanism and expectation of adherence to our laws.