Jones says amnesty for illegal immigrants is not the answer
By Andrew Bell
Published in News on April 6, 2006 1:50 PM
U.S. Rep. Walter Jones thinks someone needs to do something about the nearly 10,000 immigrants who illegally cross the border into the United States each week.
And he says, in North Carolina, the first step in dealing with the influx of illegal immigrants is an immigration court -- and he has taken his fight for that court to Washington.
Jones joined other congressional representatives of North Carolina recently at a press conference in Washington, D.C., to speak out against a U.S. Department of Justice decision to deny North Carolina an immigration court.
Currently, immigration issues in North Carolina are referred to an immigration court in Atlanta. Jones said that distance dilutes the court's authority.
"The number of cases are increasing at an alarming rate. If you tell them to go to court in Atlanta, they just won't go or they'll disappear," Jones said.
In January, President Bush said in his State of the Union address that the country should implement a guest worker program for illegal immigrants. Since then, immigration has become the hottest issue on Capitol Hill, with the U.S. Senate expected to test vote today on a couple measures to regulate the illegal immigration flow and to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants already here.
Jones joined has more than 70 other members of the House in a joint letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., outlining what they believe to be the principles of immigration reform and their disagreement with Senate proposals that would offer amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Jones said he believes there is a lot of frustration in the 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Wayne and Duplin counties, in the state and across the nation concerning immigration policies. He said the nation is not doing enough to enforce the laws. North Carolina has the eighth largest illegal alien population in the country, and states with smaller illegal immigrant populations have immigration courts.
But for Jones the issue is not just about courts and amnesty. This is an issue of the rule of law.
"If you have 300 to 350,000 illegal immigrants in the state and divide that by 100 for the counties, then each county has a problem. This is all about truth and honesty. The Constitution of America must be respected. If not, then the state laws won't be respected. I see my country. We are losing our moral values," Jones said.
By allowing amnesty for illegal immigrants, Jones said the country would reward people who have broken the law. Instead, he said, the country should focus on limiting the amount of illegal immigrants entering the country each week through the construction of a fence using the latest technology.
"I think it sends the right message. We have to say, 'Listen, no more are we going to allow 8,000 to 10,000 illegal immigrants to come into our country each week,'" Jones said.
Eventually, Jones said he would like to see more of a military presence at the borders to support Border Patrol agents, but he understands that is not possible at this time.
"If we weren't in Iraq with 130,000 of our troops including the National Guard and Reserves, then that would be the right direction to take," Jones said.
Previously, Jones co-sponsored bills that would allow citizens to help defend the border as members of a lawful militia force and members of the armed forces to assist the Department of Homeland Security at the nation's borders.
Jones said the country is facing more than just a problem with the immigrants getting across the border. Some of those who are here are becoming serious problems for local law enforcement officers.
"What we are starting to see are gangs of illegals and that is something we didn't see 10 years ago," Jones said.
Through conversations with sheriffs and police chiefs throughout the state and nation, Jones said he has learned of the drugs and violence associated with these gangs.
Jones said he sees the number of illegal immigrants coming into the country each week as an invasion and he believes many people throughout North Carolina and the country share his beliefs and concerns.
He said he is not opposed to immigration, but is against illegal immigration and providing amnesty to those individuals.
"I support all of the immigrants that come to our country legally because diversity is what makes America what it is, but not the illegal immigrants," Jones said.
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