|For Immediate Release
July 23, 2013
Contact: Kathryn Rexrode or Jessica Collins, (202) 225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte
Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Hearing
“Addressing the Immigration Status of Illegal Immigrants Brought to the United States as Children”
Chairman Goodlatte: When most Americans think about illegal immigration, they picture adults crossing the desert on the southwest U.S. border. But not every illegal immigrant in the United States can be placed into the same category.
Some did in fact come here by paying a coyote to smuggle them across the border. Some came here legally on a visa and didn’t leave when their allotted time expired so they could work here illegally. However, there is another class of unlawfully present aliens – a class of individuals who deserve to be considered from a different perspective.
I am talking about aliens brought here as children by their parents. They had no input into their parents’ decision to bring the family to the U.S. illegally. And many of them know no other home than the United States, having grown up as Americans since they were toddlers in some instances. They surely don’t share the culpability of their parents.
I have spoken about the fact that as part of the step-by-step approach the House is taking to address immigration reform, we should look at whether we as a nation should allow this group of young people to stay in the U.S. legally. And while this is an important piece of immigration reform, it too must be accomplished effectively and responsibly to ensure that several years from now Congress is not once again being asked to pass another piece of legislation dealing with the immigration status of a new group of young people brought here by their parents. To that end, I do not believe that parents who made the decision to illegally enter the U.S. while forcing their children to join them should be afforded the same treatment as these kids.
Because let’s be clear – parents bringing their young children to the U.S. illegally is not something we want to encourage. Not only because it would lead to continued illegal immigration, but also because illegally crossing the border is dangerous.
We have all seen the pictures or even video of children who are dehydrated and lethargic from an arduous trek across the Arizona desert with their parents or with smugglers paid by their parents. These border crossings could include everything from handing a child over to a coyote in hopes of getting the child to the U.S., to placing a child in the back of a semi-truck in hopes that Customs and Border Protection officers at the U.S. port of entry wouldn’t detect a human presence in the trailer, to bringing a child down into a tunnel built between Mexico and the U.S. knowing that at any moment it could collapse.
These are the kinds of things that immigration reform must ensure come to an end. Enforcement at the border and in the interior of the U.S. is crucial to ending these kinds of situations and this Committee has passed legislation to strengthen the enforcement of our immigration laws.
However, successful immigration reform must also look at how to address the significant population of illegal immigrants who are already here and who were brought here as young children by their parents through no fault of their own. And it needs to acknowledge that just because there is a group of children does not mean they should all be treated the same. For instance, if they have joined gangs or been involved in other criminal activity such as by entering the country as a drug mule crossing the border, or if they have otherwise shown that they do not intend to be productive members of American society, they should not be treated the same for purposes of legal status, as young children brought here by their parents.
So I am pleased that the Chairman is taking the time to look at this issue today and I look forward to the testimony of all of our witnesses. Thank you Mr. Chairman and I yield back the balance of my time.