U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) spoke on the Senate floor today about the WALL Act, legislation that would fully fund the border wall along the southern border. His legislation is also the first bill that will fund the wall by identifying specific funding sources.
Mr. President, a few weeks ago, there was a lot of media attention on a caravan from Central America coming up through Mexico making their way to the United States intending to declare asylum or cross the border illegally.
This is kind of interesting, because people don't realize that we have within our laws, the ability if a person declares asylum, that has to be acted upon. But, that has been a matter of routine and we've heard all about people declaring asylum, getting a court date and not showing up in court, we know that that happens.
It's really a no-brainer, but nonetheless, it's going on and on and on. In fact, the law does prescribe that anyone coming to this country to seek asylum will be coming to the country through other countries, they must first go to whatever country they go through before coming to the United States.
In other words, someone coming from Central America is obligated to, if they're coming through Mexico, they should go not to the United States, but to Mexico to seek asylum. Now, asylum is not anything that's very well defined. You know, anyone can come in and say "My life's in danger, therefore I need to have the opportunity to come across the border into the United States.
We all know what happens, back in my real life, I spent some 20 years on the border. I was a builder and developer down there. I know how the border works. I know the border agents. I've spent time down there and they have the same solutions and wonder why we don't go ahead and have a solution.
We are told that these migrants are escaping violence and persecution, but when the media asks or someone asks when someone gets to this country, they say they want to seek the economic opportunity that we, the taxpayers, are paying for in the United States or they want to reunite with their families. You know, I would think that anyone within earshot right now would want to do the same thing for their families. So, this has been going on for a long time.
While this caravan has rightfully garnered a lot of attention, it is really a part of a much larger problem.
In fiscal year 2018 alone, more than 396,000 people were caught illegally crossing our southern border by Customs and Board Protection (CBP) agents – an average of more than 7,500 per week.
They come because they know our border is porous and, if caught, they can always game our legal system and stay. They've been doing it now for years.
While the problems are not new, the caravan brings a renewed spotlight to our vulnerabilities. We have got to secure our borders and we have got to tackle the policies that encourage abuse of our immigration laws.
After decades of seeing our border breeched over and over again, voters responded very actively when then-candidate Trump when he was pledging to address our immigration crisis by building build a Wall.
Here is the thing – Walls work. We know they work. We are about the only one who doesn't have walls. DHS has estimated that a wall--and we are talking about the walls that have been in this discussion, proposed by the president, proposed by ,any of us in this body--will deter 90 percent of illegal crossers- 90 percent. So, walls do work, we know they work.
At nearly 2,000 miles, it will take an estimated $25 billion to fully secure our southern border.
Now, I’ve heard my colleagues griping about how we can pay for the wall. After all, what we don’t need is to grow our deficit or use our tax dollars to pay for it.
That’s why I will be introducing The Wall Act of 2018 – to build the wall and secure our border.
It's very simple: it provides $25 billion for a Wall by eliminating federal benefits going to illegal immigrants.
Now, a lot of people are going to yell and scream and we have a lot of liberals in both bodies of Congress that are going to say "Oh no, we can't do that." Liberals are always great about giving things away. But, the bottom line--I always think of Margaret Thatcher when I think of this--is she said "socialism is a wonderful thing until we run out of other people's money to give away." Well, that's exactly what's happening here right now.
Under current law, non-citizens who are not allowed to work are able to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)—a refundable tax credit.
They are eligible because applicants do not need to provide “work-authorized” Social Security Number.
Prior to 2003, the Social Security Administration (SSA) routinely issued SSNs simply to anyone needing drivers’ licenses or bank accounts.
We’ve stopped that now, but those numbers still exist, and allow for illegal immigrants to obtain SSNs and receive this refundable tax credit and possibly other federal benefits.
More significantly, this bill that we are introducing would require the tax filers themselves provide a work-authorized Social Security number to receive the refundable Child Tax Credit.
Under law, filers only have to provide a Social Security number for the dependents they are claiming to receive the tax credit and refundable portion. Now, that's under current law.
An illegal parent, with legal dependents, at the end of the tax year could get a Child Tax credit refund check that is as much as $1,400 per child and that check comes from Uncle Sam.
By closing these loopholes, we can save billions of dollars a year.
We can also save even more taxpayer dollars by ensuring the integrity of other federal welfare programs like SNAP or TANF.
By mandating all states to use the E-Verify system, we can add an additional layer of integrity to ensure the legal, work-eligible status of benefit recipients.
These are common sense reforms. You have to ask the question, why would we not do this? Only those legally in this country and eligible for work should be receiving federal benefits intended to get people out of poverty and get them back to work. And, this is something that actually would work and they are all common sense.
This is one of those things that falls into the category that it makes so much sense, why wouldn't we go ahead and do it? Well, we have the opportunity to go ahead and do it now. And only those who are legally in this country and eligible for work should be receiving federal benefits intended to get people out of poverty and into jobs.
Finally, this bill will increase the minimum penalty for every illegal border crossing. Over the last five years, there were an average of 500,000 illegal border crossings each year.
By raising the minimum penalty on illegal border crossings, the federal government would raise revenues by as much as $15 billion over 10 year period.
All of this more than pays for a Wall.
Our President rightly demanded the Wall not be paid for with hard working Americans’ tax dollars and my bill fulfills that commitment by not altering a single earned federal benefit for any American citizen or lawful immigrant.
Mr. President, to sum it up, I was having a news conference last week and someone said "well, the president has said that Mexico should pay for it.” Even in a way, you could say this fulfills that commitment too because it's being paid for by benefits that would otherwise go to illegals who would not be getting the benefits. So, it's the best of both worlds and it is a solution to the problem.
It is what American families deserve, but, even more, it is what the hardworking, lawful men and women who are abiding by our immigration process deserve.
So, that's the bill we are going to be introducing and you will be hearing a lot about because the one thing that people say has not been resolved is how do you come up with $25 billion for a wall? It's easy, it can be done, the figures match and it's the right thing to do for our lawful Americans.