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My Stance on Immigration

Citizenship in America is a privilege, not a right.  And while we have been a nation of immigrants from the very beginning, we are also a nation of laws.  As Texans and Americans saw in the summer of 2014 with the border surge of illegal immigrants, former President Obama enabled illegal immigration by failing to secure the border and enforce our immigration laws.  And of course, worst of all has been former President Obama’s amnesty for illegal immigrants.  In response Texas has had – at its own expense – to step up to the plate and secure the border. 

In Washington, I have steadfastly supported efforts to secure the border as well as enforce and strengthen immigration laws.  Moreover, I have championed several measures to stop illegal immigrants from fleecing the American taxpayer.

Additionally, when it comes to legal immigration, Washington must ensure that it is done with America’s best economic interests in mind.  Period.

The bottom line: Texans – and ALL Americans – want, need, and deserve better.  

2014 Border Crisis

In the summer of 2014, Texas experienced an unprecedented wave of Central American illegal immigrants crossing our border by the thousands.  This crisis was a direct result of former President Obama’s 2012 decision to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. 

In response, I led a Congressional Delegation with other Texas Members to the Rio Grande Valley sector of our border with Mexico in McAllen, Texas. While I’ve been to the border many times, I was outraged at the extent of this man-made crisis.

Let me be clear, Obama's amnesty along with his failure to secure our border and enforce our immigration laws directly encouraged these people – many of them women and children – to risk life and limb to reach American soil, believing they will be allowed to stay. Worse yet, this crisis left our Border Patrol agents overwhelmed and Texans to fend for themselves as cartels smuggled drugs, weapons, and even people over the border for profit.


Obama’s Executive Amnesty

On November 21, 2014, former President Obama granted amnesty to even more illegal immigrants – millions more.  Obama’s executive action is illegal and it’s unfair to those who have played by the rules to legally call America home.  It’s no wonder that a majority oppose this executive action.   We are a nation of laws not men, and no one is above the law, including the president.  Our Constitution clearly states that Congress alone has the authority to write the laws of the land, and it is the president’s duty to “take care that laws are faithfully executed.”

With an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, it’s an absolute disgrace that Obama chose to side with illegal immigrants over hardworking, law-abiding taxpayers.  Rather than enforce our current laws, he only encouraged countless more people to cross our border illegally by granting amnesty to millions more illegal immigrants, most recently in November 2014.

The bottom line: This is about upholding the rule of law and protecting the hardworking American taxpayer.

My efforts in the 114th Congress to Combat Obama’s Executive Amnesty

Passing legislation 

  • On May 14, 2015, I re-introduced H.R. 2334, to stop illegals from claiming the $1,000 refundable child tax credit.  Right now, the IRS doesn’t require Social Security numbers for this credit.  The Inspector General has said that, as a result, this credit can encourage illegals to come here.  To stop this, my bill would simply require individuals to provide their Social Security numbers if they want to claim this tax credit. I am pleased that the PATH Act includes one of the two provisions in my bill targeting fraud and abuse.  The included provision would prohibit individuals committing fraud from being able to claim the child tax credit for ten years. 
  •  March 4, 2015: I introduced H.R. 1298, the No Amnesty Tax “Refunds” for Illegals Act.  During a February 2015 hearing IRS Commissioner John Koskinen confirmed in response to my questions that under the President’s executive amnesty the IRS can take your hard-earned taxpayer dollars and hand them out as amnesty tax “refunds” to illegal immigrants.  To stop this injustice, I introduced my bill, which will stop illegals from receiving up to $24,000 in these tax “refunds” from the IRS. I'm thrilled to see my hard work paid off and that this common-sense bill is now law as part of the PATH Act. 

Introducing legislation

  • April 23, 2015: I re-introduced H.R. 1996, the No Social Security Numbers for Illegal Aliens Act.  Thanks to Obama’s executive amnesty, illegals can get work permits that will then enable them to get Social Security numbers as well Social Security benefits.  That’s just plain wrong and unfair to the law abiding and hardworking American taxpayer.  I won’t stand for it, which is why as Chairman of the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee I reintroduced this bill, which would prohibit Obama from handing out Social Security numbers to illegals. (I originally introduced this legislation on December 1st, 2014.)

Votes on the House Floor:

  • On June 3 2015, I voted for Representative Steve King’s (R-IA) amendment to H.R. 2578, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill.  This amendment prohibits the Obama Administration from using federal funds to defend itself against the lawsuit Texas initiated to challenge the former president’s 2014 executive amnesty in court.  (State of Texas, et a. v. United States of America)
  • On March 3, 2015, I voted against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill, H.R. 240, because it did not stop former President Obama’s executive amnesty. Unfortunately, this bill passed by a vote of 257 to 167.
  • On January 14, 2015, I voted in support the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill, H.R. 240, which included provisions to prohibit the former president from carrying out his executive amnesty program. I also voted in support of the following amendments to this bill:
    •  Reps. Aderholt / Mulvaney / Barletta Amendment: To prevent funding from any source to be used to implement the former President Obama’s amnesty actions or provide federal benefits to illegal immigrants. (This directly addresses the former president’s 2014 amnesty action.)
    •  Rep. Blackburn Amendment:  To prevent any funding from being used to consider new, previously denied, or the renewal of, DACA applications.
    •  Reps. DeSantis / Roby Amendment:  To subject alien sex offenders and child abusers to the most severe civil immigration enforcement penalties.
    •  Reps. Salmon / Thompson Amendment:  To express the sense of Congress that the Executive Branch should not pursue policies that make it more economically advantageous to hire those who came here illegally than to hire U.S. citizens.
    •  Rep. Schock Amendment:  To express the sense of Congress that the Administration should stop putting the interests of immigrants who played by the rules to come to the U.S. behind those who came here illegally.    
  • On December 11, 2014, I voted against the CR/Omnibus bill because it did nothing to stop former President Obama’s amnesty actions.
  • On December 4, 2014, I voted for H.R. 5759, the Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act, to prohibit the former president from granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Other Key Actions

  • I co-sponsored H.R. 191, the Repeal Executive Amnesty Act of 2015, which would defund the Obama's executive actions and would deny illegal immigrants eligibility to receive federal benefits.
  • On February 5, 2016, I returned to Texas's southern border in response to the Department of Homeland Security's recent report, which shows a 30% increase in border crossings compared to the previous year.  Along with other Border Caucus members, I was briefed by the Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol as well as the Texas Department of Public Safety.  I also toured the Rio Grande River by boat to see the security challenges firsthand.    
  • On May 14, 2015, I took to the House Floor to speak against illegals claiming the $1,000 refundable child tax credit – and to announce that I would be reintroducing my bill (H.R. 2334) to combat this problem.
  • On April 23, 2015, I spoke out on the House Floor against Obama’s executive amnesty, which allows illegals to get work permits that in turn enable them to get Social Security numbers and benefits.
  • On February 25, 2015, on the House Floor I encouraged other members to stand strong and fight Obama’s executive amnesty.
  • On February 11, 2015, during a Ways and Means Hearing, I grilled the IRS Commissioner who confirmed that the IRS can indeed take your hard-earned taxpayer dollars and hand it out as amnesty tax “refunds” to illegal immigrants. This is WRONG, and it’s yet another way Obama's executive amnesty is hurting law- abiding and hard-working taxpayers. (In response, I introduced the No Amnesty Tax “Refunds” for Illegals Act on March 4, 2015.)
  • On January 14, 2015, I joined fifteen members of the Texas Delegation in reaffirming our commitment to fighting former President Obama’s unconstitutional immigration actions.
  • On November 20, 2014, I took to the House Floor to speak out against Obama's abusive executive actions to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. 
  • On November 12, 2014, I joined my colleagues on a letter by Rep. Matt Salmon calling on House Appropriations Chairman Rogers to prohibit the funding of Obama's amnesty plan. 
  • On July 18, 2014, I led a Congressional Delegation to the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the border in McAllen, Texas to see the border crisis first-hand.

Texas Challenges Former President Obama in Court

Texas is home to one of the largest undocumented immigrant populations in the country.  Our local communities know first-hand the burden of illegal immigrants because taxpayers are put on the hook for unpaid hospital bills and school expenses, among other costs.  

In response, I support Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton for leading a coalition of 26 states in bringing a lawsuit against former President Obama for his November 2014 actions to grant amnesty.

Thankfully, on February 16, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen in Brownsville, Texas placed an injunction on these executive actions and ordered former President Obama to stop implementing his November directives while the lawsuit proceeded.  In June 2016, the Supreme Court upheld this injunction by a 4-4 tie vote.

Let me be clear: this is a win for the rule of law in America, and I commend Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton for their efforts.

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