The August 2015 recess is nearing a close. Local news outlets around the country have covered Congress Members' remarks to their constituents. Although the Presidential candidates have gotten most of the national coverage, focus should not be lost on sitting lawmakers.
If you attended a town hall meeting, please send us your first-hand feedback. Check out NumbersUSA's map of upcoming events here. There are still many events on the docket! We encourage you to press your lawmakers on immigration topics such as numerical limits to legal immigration, sanctuary city legislation, mandating E-Verify and rethinking the outdated birthright citizenship policy.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX)
He also defended the actions of immigration officials, targeting “criminal aliens” in the operation that arrested 26 individuals in the county. “Based on what I know, I support what ICE did in Navarro County,” Barton said. Barton added he is against any move to create “sanctuary cities” that don’t enforce immigration laws. “I am not for sanctuary cities. I have never been for sanctuary cities,” Barton said. He said he “respected the choice” of cities that chose to make such a designation, but would not support such a stance. He said legislation pending in Congress this fall that would restrict some federal funding to entities that enact such ordinances.
Melanie Cook of Mildred called on Barton and Congress to do more to protect the border and deal with immigration reform. "I'm not worried about regular people, people trying to do right by their families," Cook said. "I'm worried about the criminals." She called on Barton to take the steps to make action happen in Washington. “I want stricter enforcement,” Cook said. “There’s no reason that people should come here illegally and get to live off the fruit of our land without any consequences to them. Sanctuary cities just go one more step to making people that much more comfortable.”
Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO)
Earlier today the Congressman participated in a financial services roundtable but later in the evening it wasn’t just unemployment and energy that was discusses. Other controversial topics were brought up by the community. Tipton answered questions from residents about border security, economic growth, agricultural issues, sanctuary cities and drug cartels.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Sessions, one of the loudest critics on immigration, said the country needs a policy "that serves the national interest and is lawful." The president's executive actions on immigration would protect some 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. One of those actions, which would give some illegal immigrant parents whose children are citizens, has been stalled by a federal court in New Orleans. "I think there's no doubt that we should end the [lawlessness] on immigration [and] restore a policy that makes sense," he said, adding that he believed the Republican Party's stance on immigration is what led the GOP to retake the Senate in 2014. "We need to keep at it because it's the right thing to do," he said.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)
“What I hear when I travel the state is a real urgency about debt, deficit, jihadism, borders, national security, why'd we fund Planned Parenthood, and the Waters of the U.S. Rule,” said Senator Ben Sasse.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
Thune continues to connect with rural South Dakota When it comes to our commander-in-chief, I haven't agreed with him on a single thing that he's done," Frey said. Frey sounded off on a variety of political topics—Cuba, Keystone XL, immigration—and told Thune the government isn't helping matters.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS)
Immigration drew the most questions from the home contingency. “It’s my understanding they don’t turn anyone away,” Huelskamp said critically of border policy. As for sanctuary cities, Huelskamp said if those cities want federal money, they should be able to support laws against illegal immigration. Audience member James Barnes offered his own idea about how to deal with “anchor babies”: Allow the illegal immigrant parent to leave the country with the baby born in the U.S., or allow the parent to leave the baby in the U.S. with a qualified American. Barnes said afterward he appreciates Huelskamp “very much,” although he did not think the congressman clearly expressed his views about babies born in the U.S. to immigrants and granted citizenship under the Constitution. That’s an issue just brought up recently because the media “wants to beat up” on Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, Huelsksamp later told The News. “I have not had one single phone call,” he said about anchor babies. “It’s not open to interpretation, according to the courts,” Huelskamp said. He said he would have to look at related legislation that’s been introduced.
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA)
One critical constituent told Johnson he did not feel he represented his beliefs, and asked what Johnson thinks should be done about illegal immigration. “This country was built on a system of free labor,” Johnson said, referring to slavery and Jim Crow era sharecropping. “Who are the new black people? Poor Mexicans who are attracted to come over the border and to do work that Americans don’t want to do.”
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
The forum participants also grilled Lamborn about immigration. Several citizens heavily criticized White House plans for more lenient policies, and advocated a no nonsense stand. This has been a frequent theme at most forums Lamborn has conducted in Teller County. The congressman full-heartedly agreed with the crowd. Moreover, he believes action should be taken against the city of San Francisco for serving as a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. This soft stand he believes played a role in a heavily publicized cold-blooded murder of an innocent woman in a public area by an illegal immigrant in early July. The funeral of Kathryn “Kate” Steinle has reignited the fight over the immigration issue. Lamborn said he doesn’t support amnesty of any kind for illegals, but was open to the idea of guest worker programs. A few citizens commented on the heated presidential race, with a record amount of GOP candidates. On this subject Lamborn took the Fifth and refused to comment. Surprisingly, the hysteria surrounding the bizarre candidacy of GOP frontrunner and billionaire Donald Trump, who has gained quite a reputation for name-calling in recent weeks, didn’t generate too many comments.
From: Teller residents express outrage over White House policies
Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO)
Another man complained that the U.S. House should shut down the federal government financially instead of providing amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
From: Tipton gets earful in town
Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX)
Weber also fielded questions related to tax laws, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Ike Dike and immigration. “Will Congress outlaw sanctuary cities?” one citizen asked. “We should just take away federal money from sanctuary cities. That one’s easy,” he said, drawing applause from the room.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Grassley shared that Obama’s executive order to grant legal status to 5 million undocumented immigrants is currently being challenged in district court by 26 different states. The current ruling on the matter is that the president went beyond his authority in making the order. Grassley indicated that the matter may continue to the Supreme Court for a final ruling. Grassley said he is waiting on the House of Representatives to propose immigration bills for the Judiciary Committee to review after spending time drafting legislature in the past that went nowhere in the House. He said the House was likely to propose a number of smaller bills rather than one large immigration bill, a move he favors. “I’m the head of the committee who handles immigration,” Grassley said. “I made up my mind I’m not going to spend three months on it if the House isn’t going to do anything.” In the interim, Grassley is working on three bills to address potential fraud in the immigration system relating to visas and sanctuary cities. “When I voted for the immigration bill in 1986, we sincerely thought we’d closed the border by stopping the magnet for people to come here, which was jobs,” Grassley said. “For the first time in the history of our country, we made it illegal to hire undocumented workers. “… But you’ve got to remember, only half the people that are undocumented and illegally in the country came across that border. The others overstayed their visa. So, you have to have an exit-entry system. You have to have e-verify … and you have to have more internal enforcement than what we have right now.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley However, the senator questions one portion of Trump's immigration plan, which calls for deporting all illegal immigrants in the country. "I don't even want to deal with that until we secure the border first," said Grassley. "I think you could deal with that issue, and still have people crossing the border illegally. So, I want to deal with securing the border first, then deal with undocumented workers in this country."
Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS)
The congressman defended his legislation Tuesday to remove Federal Emergency Management Agency grant funding from cities and counties deemed to be “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants. The legislation drew unfavorable reviews after a Topeka Capital-Journal article revealed that Yoder had included several Kansas counties, including his own Johnson County, in a list of sanctuary counties to be punished. “There is a disputable issue as to whether an immigration order can have some people detained longer than the city has a right to detain them and I think that’s an issue our sheriff raised and that’s a legal question we can continue to debate,” Yoder said Tuesday.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
“I am a strong proponent of greater local control and a smaller federal government. But these municipalities that deliberately fail to enforce our nation’s immigration laws – so called ‘sanctuary cities’ – undermine our nation’s system of legal immigration while compromising our safety and security. The United States is a nation founded by immigrants, and that is why we should continue to welcome those who want to come here legally and roll up their sleeves to work hard and achieve the American Dream. We cannot, however, reward those whose first act is to break our laws, and we should never provide a sanctuary for those who continue to break our laws and harm our fellow citizens. That is why I voted for the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act (H.R. 3009), which would enact consequences for sanctuary cities by cutting off specific federal grants for municipalities who provide a safe haven for illegal immigrants.”
The Republican chairman of the House Republican Conference said the illegal immigration is a threat to liberties and always has been. If there is no control at the borders, then there is no control of our country, he said.
A discussion on border control started and Hensarling said, “It’s a matter of national will to close our borders to illegal immigrants. I’m not against immigration, just against those individuals here illegally.” He further went on to say that he is all about people wanting to move here, learn the English language and roll up their sleeves and go to work in contrast to those looking for a handout.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
About immigration, Toomey admitted that the U.S. has a broken immigration system. "When you have millions of people who come into this country illegally, that’s a huge problem," he said. "I don’t think it’s at all plausible that we are going to get a grand, comprehensive immigration bill done in the remainder of the Obama administration. I think the best we can do now is look at individual, small, piecemeal parts of this problem. We can do more for border security." When it comes to the 11 million illegals thought to be in this country, Toomey said, "it has never been feasible to think that we’re going to find, round up and deport them all. The questions is under what circumstances would there be a pathway to some legal status and that has yet to be worked out."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
“We do not have a secure border,” McCain said. “The closer you get to the border, the more harmful that is.” McCain said border security is the key. He felt a combination of fences, drones and monitoring could fix a lot of the problem. “We have the technology and the man power to secure the border,” McCain said. He pointed to technology used by the United States military in Iraq and by the Israeli government that could be used in border security. McCain also outlined a plan to strengthen E-Verify and changes in the path to citizenship for those already in America were also key. He pointed out there were many jobs in the agricultural sector that are going unfilled and that a guest worker program would benefit both businesses and workers. “You may not like to hear this, but you are not going to deport 11 million people, there are not enough buses,” McCain said. “What you need to do is make it a long, hard path to citizenship paid for by those who are on the path to citizenship.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said Wednesday that immigration and securing the country’s southern border are an “incredibly complex” issue that will take years to address. Johnson, who is chairman of the Senate’s committee on homeland security and governmental affairs, also said fencing should be considered, but he cautioned that solutions will need to be “multi-faceted” over a number of years. He made the remarks at a town hall meeting in Black River Falls where the Republican also touched on the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran, taxes, Planned Parenthood funding and the status of Social Security as he fielded questions from a group of about 15 people. “Border security is a huge issue and a huge problem,” said Johnson, elected in 2010, when he defeated three-term incumbent Russ Feingold. “Certainly fencing works, and in some areas we need to put it up.”
Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA)
Several people asked about immigration. “It’s not an issue that is going away. It’s a national security issue, and the first step is to have a safe and secure border,” Graves said. Graves also reiterated his support for a federal bill that would cut off funds for “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement efforts. They (sanctuary cities) are choosing to protect those who violate our laws, not those who are here legally and citizens,” he said.
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL)
Question: You’re here going throughout the district on your “Conservative Solutions” Tour with these town hall meetings. How is that going are what are you hearing the people of your district being concerned about? Probably because Trump has made such a big deal about it in the news, we talk about immigration. We talk about border control, having E-Verify throughout America like we do in Alabama by law now, having better control over the people who are here on temporary papers so they don’t overstay without us knowing where they are and what they’re doing.
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH)
Stivers also said he is opposed to any immigration reform plan "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. "We need to secure our border first," he said.
From: Stivers' townhall meeting draws crowd to chambers
Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX)
Babin said, “Hard working taxpayers deserve a government that is accountable, that is efficient and effective.” He says he working to fix that is his priority. He wants to secure the nation’s borders, stop amnesty, build a healthy economy, “cut the red tape”, protect the Second Amendment and repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL)
Another resident brought up the issue of illegal immigration, which dominated the conversation when Ross held a town hall meeting in July of 2013, right after the president’s immigration reform bill was proposed.
“We should have done something with (immigration) years ago,” Rep. Ross said. “There are multiple steps.” Ross said that if a bigger fence is built along the Mexican border, “people will bring a bigger ladder.” He also mentioned a measure put in place by the Obama administration that prevents local law enforcement from enforcing immigration laws, before explaining that 40 percent of illegal immigrants are in the country on expired work visas.
“We need a visa program that works,” Ross said. “We can’t keep track of (people) with work visas, but we can track a package anywhere?… Our system is broken.”
MELANIE OUBRE IS THE MANAGER, LOCAL ACTIVISM AT NUMBERSUSA
Updated: Fri, Sep 11th 2015 @ 9:10am EDT