Congresswoman Virginia Foxx spent time in Elkin the first week of January sharing information about actions taking place on Capitol Hill, including her views on immigration and negotiations for a solution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
A Friday midnight deadline is looming for when temporary government funding is slated to run out, causing a government shutdown, if an agreement between federal lawmakers on immigration can’t be reached.
The DACA program, which is a program initiated by President Barack Obama, allows for people who came to the United States as children and are living here without documentation to remain as long as they are in school or working.
When President Donald Trump took office, he announced in 2017 he would end the program, but later extended a deadline to March of this year for Congress to come up with a deal he would support to continue some type of protection for those eligible undocumented immigrants. So far, no agreement has been made.
“The president extended President Obama’s DACA order until March, and so what Speaker [Paul] Ryan has said is we’re going to deal with it before March,” Foxx said during her visit.
“The Democrats last year said they would shut down the government in December if Republicans didn’t deal with DACA, they didn’t do that, they blinked,” said the Fifth District representative. But now a government shutdown could happen if a new spending bill, which is on hold pending any immigration deal, isn’t passed by Friday at midnight.
“The president is saying, and Republicans have said this all along, we have to secure the border. That is the number one issue,” Foxx said in the agreement hold-up. “When we know the border is secure, then we’re willing to talk about the millions of people who are here illegally, but we’re not willing to do that till we secure the border.”
She said in talking about those affected by DACA, that Democrats use the term “children” in referring to them even today, when “they were children 25 and 30 years ago, they’re now grown-ups.”
“They want you to have the image in your mind that you’re going to be throwing out little kids, but that’s not what we’re talking about,” she said. “So the fear is that if you pass a law that says if you came here as a young child illegally that you can stay here somewhere or another, if you pass that then suddenly you’ll have a flood of people who come in and claim that they were brought here as children. That’s why there is so much insistence on securing the border first.”
That border security is both physically, with Trump’s proposed wall, as well as with paperwork and stricter regulation, she said.
“People need to know that 40 percent of the people who came here illegally came legally initially. They came on tourist visas and student visas and they overstayed. What do you do about those people?” Foxx said. “That’s why our folks are saying we need to deal with all of these issues. We need to stop chain migration, the president keeps talking about that.”
She was adamant that her patience was not existent for people who knew they weren’t going to go back to their home countries when they were applying for visas into the United States.
“They deliberately broke the law,” Foxx said. “You know, there are a lot of Irishmen, I’ve been told there are hundreds of thousands of people from Ireland up in the Massachusetts area who have come, so we’re not just talking about one class of people.”
Immigration laws aren’t broken in other countries like in the United States, she said, “because we’re so lax.”
“We’ve got to do something about that. We’ve got to have better verification for people. If you come here on a tourist visa, you shouldn’t be able to get by with just staying here. There are ways to do it, we have to work those out. It’s just not a simple problem,” Foxx said.
“Yes, there are people here who came here as children through no fault of their own. Many of them have done OK, but there are also many of them who are in gangs, many of them have not done well,” she said. “The immigration population is really not different than the whole population. It’s a microcosm of the whole population.”
If immigration is dealt with, Foxx said she doesn’t see it affecting the economy greatly. “I do not believe that you’re going to see a wholesale turning people out of the country. I just don’t think that’s going to happen.
“The average citizen doesn’t want to see that happen I don’t think, surveys show that,” she said. “But we have to do something about it, we can’t continue to let it be the way it is.
“A country without borders is not a country. You’ve got to have borders, and you’ve got to regulate who comes in. We should be bringing in people who benefit our culture.”
Foxx cited historical admission of immigrants who came through Ellis Island, but if they were unhealthy, they were not allowed to enter the country. She said they instead were quarantined and then put back on ships and sent home.
“We’re not a cruel and mean and heartless people. We’re the most welcoming people in the world, but we have our limits, and I think that’s what folks are saying now,” she said.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.