Raul LabradorLast week was a very significant and exciting time in the fight for immigration reform. I was named chairman of the House subcommittee with jurisdiction over immigration and border security issues; the House Judiciary Committee approved my bill to reform America’s refugee program; and I voted for, and the House passed, two immigration enforcement bills.

As you know, immigration reform is an issue close to my heart and one I’ve worked on for a long time. That’s why I am honored to be the new Chairman of the House Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee. I was tapped for the position last Tuesday, and I will have the responsibility for the rest of the 115th Congress. As chairman, I will prioritize legislation that enforces our laws, secures our borders, and modernizes our immigration system for the twenty-first century. That’s what the people of Idaho want, and that’s what they deserve. I will do everything I can to deliver.

The very next day, the House Judiciary Committee approved my bill to reform America’s refugee program: The Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act. As Americans, we have a long tradition of helping refugees who, through no fault of their own, are fleeing war and persecution and wish to become contributing members of our society. However, our first priority when it comes to America’s refugee program is ensuring the safety and security of the American people. There are already documented cases of terrorists infiltrating the program, and with ISIS vowing to exploit it further, the time for congressional action is now.

My bill modernizes America’s refugee program to keep pace with today’s security challenges. It enacts stronger vetting of refugees, gives states and communities the power to decline resettlement, and lowers the annual refugee ceiling and shifts to Congress the authority to make changes in that figure. Overall, my bill will protect the integrity of the refugee program, reduce fraud, and improve national security. To learn more about my bill, please read my op-ed with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte in the Washington Times here

Then, last Thursday, I voted for – and the House passed – two immigration enforcement bills: Kate’s Law and The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act. Kate’s Law increases penalties for deported felons who return to the U.S., like the illegal alien who killed Kate Steinle in San Francisco two years ago. The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act combats dangerous sanctuary policies that shield illegal aliens from federal immigration enforcement. These bills include provisions from my immigration enforcement bill, H.R. 2431, the Davis-Oliver Act.

With Speaker Paul Ryan and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, I spoke at a press conference in support of these bills. I emphasized that governments at all levels have a basic responsibility to protect our citizens from those who are here illegally - and especially from those who commit crimes. For too long, the federal government has looked the other way while sanctuary cities violate the law and undermine public safety. The bills I voted for this week bring common sense to an issue where common sense is desperately needed. To watch me speaking at the press conference, please click here

This is just the beginning. I look forward to having a House vote on the Davis-Oliver Act and additional legislation that the House Judiciary Committee is working on, including mandatory E-Verify. 

Fixing our broken immigration system starts, first and foremost, with enforcing the law.  By completing that vital first step, we will be positioned to modernize our immigration system and bring it into the twenty-first century.