One of the most pressing issues for the public, and one of the most challenging national security issues for our country is our border security – particularly along our southern border. Whether it is dealing with the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants that experts believe are residing in the U.S., or preventing terrorists from crossing our borders with nefarious purposes – border security is vital to the protection of our nation. In addition, over the past two years, drug-related violence by warring cartels has skyrocketed necessitating an even greater sustained and comprehensive federal response to address these issues.
When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in 2003, I was proud to serve as the first chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, and currently serve as the top Republican member of that subcommittee. During my tenure in this role, I have worked hard to give DHS what it needs to accomplish its mission of protecting our nation, while also pushing for the changes that are needed to adapt to the security issues that we face both now and in the future. This has included beefing up security at our airports by adding more efficient and accurate screening equipment, increased scanning of cargo containers at our ports, and funding programs to halt the flow of illegal immigrants and drug-traffickers across our borders.
A critical component of my congressional work has been focused on ending illegal immigration and stopping the flow of undocumented aliens crossing our borders. I have long believed that respect for our immigration laws is critical to maintaining our economic and domestic security. Further, illegal immigration undermines the rule of law, depresses wages and opportunities for our working families, and is linked to crime and drug trafficking. That is why I have consistently supported legislation that seeks to end illegal immigration by establishing physical barriers, incorporating state-of the art surveillance technology, expanding our border patrol efforts and increasing penalties for alien smuggling.
Under my watch and through a sustained commitment of resources, CBP has established nearly 700 miles of hard fencing along the southwest border. Our Border Patrol force has more than doubled over the past decade with close to 20,000 agents, 85 percent of which serve along the U.S.-Mexico border. DHS has also ended the practice of “catch and release” – which allowed illegal aliens to enter our country while awaiting trial. Finally, I’ve worked diligently to replace the U.S. Coast Guard’s aging ships and aircraft, with some of the surface fleet dating back to World War II. I’ve long believed we need to outfit this critical multi-mission agency to better handle terrorist threats on our ports and drug and human smuggling throughout the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and along our Pacific coastline.
That’s not all, I have also been proud to support the E-Verify program, which is an electronic employment verification system that allows employers to check the legal status of their employees. I am proud to have provided the initial funding for this program. Under my leadership, over $400 million in funding has been set aside to establish and initiate the E-Verify program. On June 9, 2008, President Bush signed an Executive Order requiring that all employers with federal contracts must verify their employees’ immigration status with the E-Verify program. Such a requirement is a great step forward in securing our nation’s immigration system, and I hope that the use of the E-Verify system expands.
Finally, I have also stated publicly that I oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants. Amnesty only undermines the rule of law, rewards those who break the law, and harms our citizens who are working and living in the United States legally. I do not support legislation that effectively discriminates against law-abiding Americans properly working and living in our communities, or tramples on basic, fundamental principles including the rule of law and the sovereignty of a nation to maintain and protect its borders.
I am proud of the work that has been done to secure our borders – but more dedicated work remains. Failure is not an option when it comes to our nation’s security.
The National Institute for Hometown Security (NIHS) is a private, non-profit 501(c)3 corporation which was organized in 2004. The NIHS was developed with the specific mission to discover, develop and deploy solutions that protect and preserve the critical infrastructure of the nation’s communities. The organization pursues infrastructure protection research projects that are aligned with the needs and requirements of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
I wanted to organize the higher education institutions of Kentucky to more effectively compete for research funds and projects aimed at improving homeland security. As a result, the Kentucky Homeland Security University Consortium was formed. The member institutions collaborate on research and development projects, share scholarly resources, and cooperatively pursue solutions to specific homeland security challenges. The NIHS is the administrative manager for the Consortium and manages contracts for research projects which are awarded to Consortium members.
To learn more about the NIHS and successful developments, click on the NIHS logo.