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Sen. Jeff Session’s Powerful Speech on the Invasion of Our Southern Border

Jeff Sessions

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), has become the leading voice in the Senate for protecting American workers from having their quality of life destroyed by competition from low wage illegal workers and upholding the rule of law and American sovereignty against Obama’s decision to ignore his constitutional duty to enforce our immigration and border security laws.

On Tuesday, June 24, 2014, Sessions delivered a powerful speech to the Senate which we think is worth reading in its entirety. The key point in Senator Sessions’ speech was this: It is the reality—not just the rumor—of non-enforcement that is driving the surge of illegal aliens flooding into the US.

Remarks of Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, June 24, 2014:

“Colleagues: today there is an unprecedented crisis unfolding on our border. This crisis threatens the very integrity of our national borders, our laws, and our system of justice. It is a crisis of the Administration’s own making, and a crisis that the Administration continues to encourage.

America deserves leaders in the Executive Branch who will stand up and say clearly: the crisis must end now. The border is closed. If you come unlawfully, you will be deported.

But President Obama and Secretary Johnson refuse to make this plain statement.

Let us review the evidence.

A March 20, 2014, University of Texas, El Paso study that was funded and supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate states that:

Both Border Patrol and ICE officers agreed that the lack of deterrence for crossing the U.S.-Mexican border has impacted the rate at which they apprehend UACs [unaccompanied alien children]. Officers are certain that UACs are aware of the relative lack of consequences they will receive when apprehended at the U.S. border. UTEP was informed that smugglers of family members of UACs understand that once a UAC is apprehended for illegal entry into the United States, the individual will be reunited with a U.S. based family member pending the disposition of the immigration hearing. This process appears to be exploited by illegal alien smugglers and family members in the United States who wish to reunite with separated children. It was observed by the researchers that the current policy is very similar to the ‘catch & release’ problem that the Department of Homeland Security faced prior to the passage of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

Recently, Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley questioned 230 illegal immigrants about why they came and 95% said they believed they would be allowed to stay and take advantage of the ‘new’ U.S. ‘law’ that grants a ‘free pass’ or ‘permiso’ being issued by the U.S. government to adults traveling with minors and to unaccompanied children. The memo stated:

‘The information is apparently common knowledge in Central America and is spread by word of mouth, and international and local media. A high percentage of the subjects interviewed stated their family members in the U.S. urged them to travel immediately, because the United States government was only issuing immigration ‘permisos’ until the end of June 2014.’

On June 10, 2014, newspapers in Honduras and Guatemala quoted Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson as saying: ‘Almost all agree that a child who crossed the border illegally with their parents, or in search of a father or a better life, was not making an adult choice to break our laws, and should be treated differently than adult violators of the law.’

On June 13th, the Washington Post published an article entitled, ‘Influx of minors across Texas border driven by belief that they will be allowed to stay in U.S.’

On June 19th, Democrat Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas said: ‘as long as they know they’re going to be released and allowed to stay here, they’re going to keep coming.’

The New York Times quoted one teenager from Honduras whose mother had sent for him: ‘If you make it, they take you to a shelter and take care of you and let you have permission to stay.’

Records show the Administration knew the surge at the border was coming and did nothing to stop it. Indeed, they sought to accommodate it.

On January 29, 2014, the federal government posted an advertisement seeking bids for a vendor to contract to handle 65,000 ‘Unaccompanied Alien Children’ crossing the southern border.

This raises serious questions.

Why would the Administration claim to be surprised by the current influx of unaccompanied minors when they were taking bids in January for a contract to handle this exact situation and almost the exact number?

And how did they anticipate 65,000 unaccompanied minors?

In March of this year, the Department of Health and Human Services estimated in its Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal that the number of unaccompanied illegal alien children apprehended in 2014 would rise to 60,000—up 814 percent from the 6,560 who were apprehended in the U.S. only three years ago in Fiscal Year 2011.

Over the weekend, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security published an ‘open letter to the parents of children crossing our Southwest border’ on a Spanish-language wire service, in Central and South American and Mexican newspapers, and on Univision’s website.

The letter noted that the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill ‘provides for an earned path to citizenship, but only for certain people who came into this country on or before December 31, 2011.’ But the very fact that Secretary Johnson is advertising in foreign countries an ‘earned path to citizenship’ for illegal immigrants undermines his primary responsibility, which is to enforce the law.

Human beings are rational actors, and if they believe that the United States is seeking to grant citizenship to illegal aliens who arrived before 2012, it stands to reason the United States government will move that date back if more illegal aliens arrive.

Even a 2009 internal Department of Homeland Security report on approaches for implementing immigration legislation recognize this fundamental fact:

Virtually all immigration experts agree that it would be counterproductive to offer an explicit or implied path to permanent resident status (or citizenship) during any legalization program. That would simply encourage the fraud and illegal border crossings that other features of the program seek to discourage. In fact, for that reason and from that perspective, it would be best if the legislation did not even address future permanent resident status or citizenship.

And so, contrary to the Administration’s claims that illegal immigrants are acting on mere rumor and misinformation, it is not only the rumor but the reality of lax enforcement that is driving the surge.  It is also the lack of a clear message not to come unlawfully.

A leaked May 30 internal memo written by top Border Patrol official, Deputy Chief Ronald Vitiello, said: ‘Currently only three percent of apprehensions from countries other than Mexico are being repatriated to their countries of citizenship, which are predominantly located in Central America.’

I repeat: only three percent are being returned home.

According to the former head of Enforcement and Removal Operations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Gary Mead, ‘It’s taking a year or more in some places for these people to come up on a hearing and many times, they don’t have an attorney, or they’ve lost an attorney, and they get an extension, and maybe it's two years before they have a hearing. And in the interim period, they enroll in school, or they get a job, or they are reunited with family members, and then they are no longer an enforcement priority.’

Even if, after two or three years, a hearing judge finally orders removal—assuming they show up in court at all—many illegal immigrants simply ignore the order. And, having now been here for a period of years, no one makes them leave. As former ICE Director John Sandweg said, ‘If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero.’

Yesterday, Byron York published in the Washington Examiner the findings of Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, which show that the United States deported a total of 802 minors to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador in 2011; 677 in 2012; and 496 in 2013. Weighed against the tens of thousands pouring in, it is clear that, once again, the reality—not merely the rumor—of lax enforcement has influenced decision-making in Central America.

York quotes ex-ICE Official Gary Mead: ‘If you’re getting 90,000 a year, or 50,000 a year, or even 25,000 a year, and you only remove 1,200, you’re not eliminating the backlog.’

Additionally, those here illegally have taken advantage of an asylum system that is easily open to abuse and that the Administration has sought to widen rather than narrow. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte stated recently that ‘many of the children, teenagers, and adults arriving at the border are able to game our asylum and immigration laws because the Obama Administration has severely weakened them and many thousands have already been released into the interior of the United States. What does President Obama plan to do with those who have already been released from custody?’

That’s a good question.

So we have a situation now where illegal immigrants seek out and turn themselves in to border patrol so they can be brought into the United States, be united with family members, apply for jobs, attend schools, have children in U.S. hospitals, and stay in the United States—whether through skipping court hearings, receiving asylum, or simply ignoring orders to leave. We can all expect, five or ten years from now, politicians in this very body to say that these illegal immigrants ‘came here through no fault of their own’ and are entitled to citizenship. Is this a policy of a great nation? It’s a policy of a nation that advocates for open borders, but it’s not a policy that’s compatible with a system of law, duty, and order.

And the chaos continues.

Indeed, the President actively continues to incentivize even more illegal immigration—he reauthorized his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for two years and held a White House ceremony honoring ten DACA recipients; he recently unilaterally authorized an additional 100,000 guest workers; and now the Justice Department is hiring lawyers to represent unaccompanied alien children in immigration court, to maximize the number who will receive permission to stay.

Claims that DACA does not apply to these new arrivals is simply a distraction. DACA is a unilateral action that established the precedent that those who come to the United States at a certain age will receive special exemptions from the law. ICE officers report that they are often forced to release even high-risk individuals, of unknown ages and dates of entry, who simply assert ‘DREAM Act’ privileges.

In the internal Border Patrol memo, Deputy Chief Vitiello stressed that the only way to stop the flow is to show potential illegal immigrants that there will be real consequences for their actions: ‘If the U.S. government fails to deliver adequate consequences to deter aliens from attempting to illegally enter the U.S. the result will be an even greater increase in the rate of recidivism and first-time illicit entries.’

Our immigration system is unraveling before our very eyes. The American people have been denied the protections they are entitled to under our immigration system. Washington is failing the citizens of this country in the most dramatic way.  

So I am calling upon all leaders and officials in this town to take the firm, bold and decisive steps necessary to restore order and restore our borders.  This is also so important for the children who are placed in such danger.

What is the way to fix this?

The President must send a clear and simple message: Do not come unlawfully. If you do, you will be returned home.”

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