As Congress Debates Foreign Aid, Feenstra & Pfluger Push to Address Crisis Here at Home

“What’s happening at the southern border is the deconstruction of the rule of law.”

WASHINGTON, DC – With Congress about to consider legislation that will provide critical assistance to America’s allies who are being threatened abroad, The Ripon Society held a breakfast discussion yesterday morning with U.S. Reps. Randy Feenstra (IA-4) and August Pfluger (TX-11), two lawmakers who believe that more needs to be done to confront a crisis that is threatening Americans here at home – the crisis along our southern border.

“I represent 36 counties,” Feenstra said in remarks to open the discussion.  “For the most part, my area is very rural, with small communities of between 500 to 10,000 people.  Going through these 36 counties, you hear the hardships of what’s happening.  The number one issue is the fentanyl that’s pouring across the border and then coming up to our rural communities.  Our sheriffs are talking about this and saying, ‘We’ve got a major problem with meth and fentanyl getting into our schools and our kids engaging in the drug problems.’

“What that does is put a lot of extra pressure on our hospitals.  But it’s also putting pressure on our school districts.  You have this influx of people coming in.  How do school districts handle it, with English as a second language and that sort of thing?  The burdens are significant.  You’re talking about small towns with small schools and small hospitals.  These aren’t urban centers.  It creates a massive problem.”

One of those problems, Feenstra noted, relates to crime and the ability of illegal immigrants who commit crimes to sometimes walk away scot-free.   Eight years ago, for example, Sarah Root, a 21-year-old student from Feenstra’s District in Iowa was struck and killed by an illegal immigrant who was driving drunk.  Due to a gap in federal law, the driver was released by federal law enforcement and never faced justice. 

“She had just graduated, and it was her graduation night,” Feenstra recounted. “She was hit by a drunk driver who was in America illegally and did not get prosecuted. He got released on bail, never to be seen again.”

Feenstra added that he has co-authored a bill with Iowa Senator Joni Ernst to close this loophole.  Called Sarah’s Law, the legislation – which was approved by the House Judiciary Committee last month — would amend the mandatory detention provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act to require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain illegal immigrants criminally charged with killing or seriously injuring another person. 

“We are a nation of laws,” Feenstra said after the Committee passed out the bill, “and illegal immigrants who break our laws must answer for their crimes.”

Pfluger – who serves on the Homeland Security Committee and chairs the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Intelligence, and Law Enforcement – echoed this same sentiment in his remarks yesterday morning.

“In my opinion,” he said, “what’s happening at the southern border is the deconstruction of the rule of law.  You have people that Randy just mentioned who have been set free. There are eight and a half million illegal immigrants who have come into this country.  I don’t blame somebody for wanting a better life. But the point is we do have rules and we do have laws. We do have a way that we should do business.  And that’s why they want to come to this country, because we are not a Banana Republic.  We are a country that upholds the rule of law.  Yes, you’re innocent until proven guilty.  But you also are not just set free without due process.”

“And that’s the most upsetting part about what we’re seeing. When Mayorkas testified yesterday in front of the committee, my question to him was whether there is an imminent threat of a terrorist attack inside our country.  He wouldn’t answer the question.  Even Christopher Ray told us there were people who had come into this country that matched the Terrorist Watchlist and are still at large. 

“That’s extremely concerning when you consider that 300-plus people have matched the Terrorist Watchlist since the Administration has been in place.  I just can’t understand how that has been part of a reasonable plan to govern our country.  And I think most Americans at this point are waking up to the fact that it’s not.”

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.