A Tennessee Republican congresswoman wants anyone trying to enter the United States illegally to face serious legal consequences, and has drafted a bill to accomplish that goal.
U.S. Rep. Diane Black said the time has come to move first-time illegal border crossing from a misdemeanor to a felony, The Hill reported.
“The significance of that is not only the difference in the incarceration time that you might be held, but the fact that later down the road if you try to get back into the country, if you have a felony, it would be more difficult or potentially impossible to come,” Black said.
“So if you, later on, think, ‘well I would like to do this through the legal means,’ it would disqualify you from getting a green card.”
TheZero Tolerance for Illegal Entry Act would also require employers to use e-verify to ensure applicants can legally work in the United States. Black said that’s vital, because if people realize they cannot cross illegally to find work, it will deter them from coming.
“What this bill does is it sets up a huge disincentive,” she said, according to the Washington Examiner. “There is already a process set up and they should be using what the process is … We’re not penalizing people are who doing things the right way seeking asylum. This is for people who are going around the system.”
“People come to the country because they want to get work,” she said in an interview reported by Townhall. “They want to come from whatever bad situations in their countries which we all understand but we encourage them to do that by the legal means.”
“E-verify, even though we’ve talked about it for years it has never been something that’s been in place all the way across the line,” she said. “That would keep someone from coming here illegally if they thought they couldn’t get work. ‘Why would I come if I can’t get work.’”
Black, who is looking to run for Tennessee governor, said immigration is a major issue even in a state as far from the border as Tennessee.
In April, a raid on a meat-packing plant in the state resulted in the arrest of 97 people, according to The Washington Post.
“People want the border protected, and they’re not against immigration. They’re really not — they just want people to do it legally,” she said.
Black also proposes cutting funding from sanctuary cities and counties that do not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“The United States government should never prioritize illegal immigrants over American citizens,” Black said, according to WCMH. “We must have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to illegal border crossings and sanctuary cities, and we must give ICE the resources they need to do their job as they protect our nation.”
Black said her bill is designed to support President Donald Trump’s tough immigration policies.
“President Trump has been clear about illegal immigration from day one, and we know that he is committed to protecting our nation for future generations. We must do all we can to deter the criminal abuse of our border – it has gone on for far too long,” she said in a statement on her website.
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