BY: KEFF CIARDELLO, EXECUTIVE EDITOR
Congressman Lamar Smith has been the Representative for Texas District 21 for more than 25 years. We were fortunate enough to sit down with him to reminisce on the past, discuss present situations and what this means for the future. This is the second part of a three part series with this interview. The following are the second half of quotes from Congressman Smith. Part one was the first half of the interview, while the third and final installment will be a conclusive article on our conversation and what it means for our District and the state of Texas. (Read part one here)
On his duty as a Congressman:
“My main job is to reduce regulations, keep taxes from going up and making sure the country is safe. You have to keep a close eye on certain things like water, especially on private property. If we aren’t careful, the (federal government) can over regulate. It’s my duty to make sure things like that don’t happen.”
“I started, a couple months ago, the Border Security Caucus in Congress. It’s the second the caucus I’ve founded. Basically, the caucus is about border security first. Until you secure the border, there is no point in implementing any other immigration reforms because all they are going to do is encourage more illegal immigration and you’re not in a position to try to prevent it. We now have over 70 members and we’ll probably be over 100 in the next month. So it will be one of the largest caucuses in Congress.
People are rightly concerned about what’s happening at the border. If you lose control of the border, you lose control of the future of the country. That’s not acceptable. The situation now, so far, just this year, over 50,000 illegal minors have crossed the border and it will be over 90,000 by the end of the year. It is absolutely out of hand. These are young people and 40% of them are not coming alone, they are accompanied by an adult, often a parent. Under the current law, they can be turned around at the border and told to go home. That is what we should be doing. They have left family behind; they need to return to their family. If we allow them to stay in this country, it just encourages more of them to come in because they think they will be able to stay as well.
As we know, everybody wants to come to the United States. It’s a wonderful country with great freedoms, economic growth and good prosperity, well, not so much the last four or six years, but before that. The last six years, both unemployment and those giving up on looking for work, have set records. Income is stagnant, economic growth is bouncing along the bottom, it couldn’t be worse for the past four to six years, but we are still better off than most people in most other countries. That’s why people from other countries want to come over here. We can’t accommodate everybody; there is a right way and a wrong way to come into the country. The right way is to play by the rules and wait your turn as generations before have done.
To put that in context, America is the most generous country in the world. We admit 1,000,000 people every year. That’s as many people as every other country combined. So, the fact that we are so generous gives us, I think, the right and the responsibility to say ‘If you’re coming in, you’re coming in under the laws.’ That means, apply to get in, wait in line just like everybody else. Don’t cut the line and take jobs away from American citizens or cost the tax payers because immigrants are twice as likely to be on Welfare.
Under President Obama, immigrants that have been in the country for several years have been declared eligible to stay and get a work permit. This is the signal that caused all of this to happen. All these illegal minors came within a few weeks of the President saying that anybody in the country can stay if you came in as a young person. With the people in the country now that are being held, first of all, we are releasing 97%. So, despite the administration saying ‘You need to go home’, their actions contradict their words. Everybody in Central American countries knows what’s going. When they read that 97% get to stay, those are really good odds.
As far as the ones being held in various facilities, a lot of them are being put on a bus and the taxpayers are paying for them to go wherever they want to go. There are other people who are still being held and they ought to be sent home. When I say sent home, it’s their home country where they left families. These young people weren’t just living by themselves in Central America; they were living with family members. We want to reunite them with their family members in their home country. It’s the administration’s policies that caused all of this and now the taxpayers are forced to shoulder the burden.”
On Veteran’s Affairs:
“This comes up often in my telephone town meetings. There are a lot of Veterans in my district who live in San Antonio and up into the Corridor. It gets people’s attention, as it should, when the people we should be making sure get the best health care, aren’t getting it when they need it or are even denied it. Here are these Veterans who have sacrificed for us and yet we see, in over forty facilities around the country, where records have been falsified and the lengthy times they had to wait had been covered up.
Veterans have died while they were waiting excessively, others aren’t getting the proper health care they need and deserve, and that really gets people’s attention, whether they are veterans or not. The health care facilities in Austin and in San Antonio are still under investigation. I don’t know the result of that investigation but I have met with them and they swore there hasn’t been a cover of time waste. So, we’ll wait for the investigation to be completed.
My feeling is that if the VAs cannot offer the health care they should in a timely manner, then the Veterans should be able get the health care wherever they can. It may even be in the private sector. The important thing is to get them the health care they need, when they need it, wherever it comes from.”