House Judiciary Sub-Committee on Immigration, Opening Statement, Ranking Member Congressman Tom McClintock
February 11, 2021
Congressman Tom McClintock
Ranking Member, House Judiciary Sub-Committee on Immigration
February 11, 2021
Before we took a wrecking ball to our economy last year, we were enjoying one of the greatest expansions of economic opportunity in our lifetimes. Unemployment was at its lowest rate in 50 years, the poverty rate was at its lowest rate in 60 years. Wage growth was the strongest in 40 years. The wage gap was narrowing for the first time in many years, as blue-collar wages increased dramatically. The unemployment rate for women was the lowest in 70 years. For African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans, veterans and disabled Americans, and those without a high school diploma, unemployment was the lowest ever recorded. The labor participation rate began to increase after years of decline as workers who had given up hope of work began seizing opportunities. The participation rate for men aged 25-34 grew for the first time since 1962.
Big business and big agriculture hated this because it required them to pay higher wages but in the growing economy it produced, many more people were prospering than in many decades.
Tax and regulatory relief explain much of this success, but the extraordinary improvement of wages for unskilled and low-skilled workers begs for greater insight. Could it be that the Trump Administration’s success in restoring control of our borders stemmed the flood of low-wage labor into the job market that had been suppressing wages for American workers for decades?
We’ll soon find out. President Biden has signed several executive orders in the last few weeks that together are already producing a new migrant crisis on the southern border.
Customs and Border Protection agents report that the daily flow on the southern border has nearly doubled from 2,000 last month to 3,500 this month. The number of illegal immigrants encountered on the southern border during the first four months of FY 2020 was 164,932. That number has nearly doubled for the first four months of FY 2021 to 296,259.
The effect of these executive orders includes abandoning the border wall, questioning the longstanding premise that that immigrants should be able to support themselves, releasing illegal immigrants with minors into the interior, ending the remain-in-Mexico policy for those claiming asylum in the United States after travelling through other countries where they could have sought it, granting what amounts to sanctuary status for a wide variety of criminal offenses including drunk driving and sex offenses, and ordering ICE not to enforce immigration law for 100 days – an order that has been stayed by the federal courts.
Apparently, that isn’t bold enough for the open borders left, and it is seeking even bolder actions that I’m sure we’ll get a glimpse of today.
Every American needs to fully understand the implications of these policies. If we are not going to enforce our immigration laws, our borders mean nothing. And if our borders mean nothing, we are no longer a country but rather a vast international territory between Canada and Mexico – both of which HAVE immigration laws that they actually enforce.
But I hope my Democratic colleagues will take the time to answer some questions the American people have a right to know:
• How are American workers helped by flooding the labor market with another wave of illegal immigration?
• How are our children – who have been robbed of an entire year of their educations – helped by filling their classrooms with non-English speaking classmates?
• How are our streets made safer by allowing aliens who drive drunk to remain on our roads rather than to be arrested and placed in removal proceedings?
• How is our nation made safer by reopening virtually unrestricted travel with hotbeds of international terrorism?
• How are our communities made safer by making it harder to deport criminal illegal aliens and gang members?
• How are our hospitals made more accessible by overwhelming emergency rooms with illegal immigrants demanding care?
If you are going to advocate these policies, you have an obligation to answer these questions.
But I want to conclude on a hopeful message. If the majority wants to make progress this session, there is not only room for compromise, but a necessity for it. We need to provide legal status to children brought here illegally who have grown up here and have no memory of their home country, and we need to reform our temporary agricultural worker program. But we can’t address these issues until we secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws. Otherwise, we just invite a new wave of illegal immigration – just like we are seeing right now.
If you want to make progress, the minority is anxious to start down this road.
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