Pfluger & Van Duyne Lay Out Vision for Border Security and Immigration Reform

By on May 24, 2021 in Featured News, News

“Security has to come first, but then the very next step has to be reform to assist these people.”

WASHINGTON, DC — This past Thursday, The Ripon Society held a virtual discussion with U.S. Reps. August Pfluger (TX-11) and Beth Van Duyne (TX-24), two freshman members of the Texas delegation to the House of Representatives.

Both outlined their respective policy agendas for their first term as well as their thoughts on the ongoing situation on our southern border and possible paths toward immigration reform. Pfluger kicked things off.

“The priorities for my district,” Pfluger stated, “are very much in line for the priorities of the Republican Party right now. This includes making sure we preserve our position throughout the world through a strong economy, a strong military, and strong border security.

“It’s so important right now to come to grips with what’s going on our southern border. It’s just such a tragedy – both from the standpoint of the trafficking that’s going on with the cartels and the coyotes and the folks that are being subjected to abuse along this long journey, a journey that can take 21 to 28 days from the Northern Triangle countries.

“One criticism some folks levy against border security is that it’s inhumane. Well, actually I think it’s more humane because these policies outline a more humane way of doing business through the rule of law. That’s something that we all need to acknowledge.”

Pfluger, who served in the U.S. Air Force for nearly two decades as a decorated fighter pilot and currently serves as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserves, is also a member of the For Country Caucus. The Caucus is a group of bipartisan lawmakers who, having served in our nation’s military, have pledged to work together in a nonpartisan way to create a more productive government.

“It’s an outstanding group. In fact, we just did a service project this week here in Washington, DC, and we sent care packages, 5,000 of them, to deployed troops. I really think that this caucus is good for healing the divisiveness in this country, moving us forward, allowing us to really get into a position where we can talk to each other. Maybe we disagree, and that’s fine, but at least we can have a conversation.”

Van Duyne recently served as Regional Administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and previously served as the first woman Mayor of Irving, TX. She began her remarks by touching on why the message of Republican candidates resonated with so many voters across the country in 2020.

“None of us fell back on skin color or gender,” Van Duyne explained. “We said, ‘Vote for us because we’re the most prepared and we share your views, your values, and your principles.’ We worked hard last year during the campaign. We reached out and we met with members of our community. We listened to them and they supported us because they were convinced that we were going to be their strongest advocate and strongest champion in DC.

“I came up here expecting to be able to work on things like transportation. I fought to get on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee because I think it’s extraordinarily important in our country right now, especially given that we’ve just come out of this pandemic and we must remain competitive globally. That means we invest in maintenance of our roads, our bridges, our highway systems.”

According to Van Duyne, progress seems to be stymied by politics as usual.

“We’ve seen a complete lack of bipartisanship and of unity from this Administration and others across the aisle.”

“On the opposite side of the aisle, we are seeing a push for complete centralization of everything. It’s all about control and bringing the power to DC. Their focus is not on decreasing regulations and empowering local governments and local elected officials to be able to prioritize their projects. They believe the folks in DC know better, and as a former mayor I know that that’s not the case.”

After their initial remarks, the two were asked if meaningful immigration reform is possible and what actions they would like to see Congress take to address the issue.

“There is way too much finger pointing going on right now,” Pfluger said, “and it’s unfortunate that we have seen the reversal of policies that I think over the last three or four years were well thought out, and that set the stage for securing and reforming the immigration system.

“Whether it’s agriculture, oil and gas, small businesses, this is not new to our district, the 29 counties. We depend on a strong, stable, consistent supply of labor. And a lot of that is coming from folks that are in the H-2A or H-2B Visa Program and year in and year out are doing work to help our economy continue to grow.

“The process takes way too long and is inefficient, much like other government processes right now. The system incentivizes criminal behavior because the hurdle is so high that it doesn’t appear that you’re going to be able to have success as an immigrant. I’ve always said that security has to come first, but then the very next step has to be reform to assist these people.”

Van Duyne agreed with her fellow Texan.

“What ends up happening, if you shoot for comprehensive reform, is that you’re going to have everything in the kitchen sink thrown in, and that then gives Members an excuse not to vote for it. I’m very much a pragmatist. I think we should go ahead and vote on the things that we can all agree on now. Bring them to the forefront, get them passed. Let’s start with small steps, as long as we’re moving and we’re progressing. Right now, what you see at the border is chaos. It is a humanitarian crisis.

“We are encouraging people to apply for asylum and come here the right way. Do it from the first safe country that you get to so you’re not having to make that trek through Mexico and so you’re not empowering and enriching the human smugglers and drug traffickers. Let’s do it in an orderly fashion so we’re not having 5,700 kids who have come over unaccompanied that are smashed together in a facility that was built to hold 250. Let’s stop that craziness right now.”

She continued.

“Let’s understand how the people who are currently in our country feel when they think they’re going to be deported at any moment. They can’t move around freely and they can’t be with their families.

“Maybe there can be a pathway to legalizing them – making sure that they pay a fine, get in line, not commit a crime, state that they won’t commit a crime, and actually have them pay into our tax system. These people should not have to worry about living in the shadows of this country. We have to address that.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people. 

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