Stop illegal immigration to keep Americans safe
© Getty Images

Every state is a border state and every town is a border town. That is what many believe to be happening due to the illegal entry taking place on our nation’s southern border. What we as Tennesseans have watched happen over the past decade is a problem that has spiraled out of control for local law enforcement and elected officials. It is due to the federal government not doing its job to enforce existing federal immigration law.

The Obama administration pushed open-border policies, backed away from securing the border and pushed sanctuary city policies that have made us less safe.

ADVERTISEMENT

When you read our nation’s Constitution, you read that our duty is to provide for the common defense. Our government is to protect our citizens. What we have very sadly learned is that by allowing these cities and states to become a haven for those who have entered our country illegally, we make our communities less safe. The cases of Kate Steinle, Jamiel Shaw and Mollie Tibbetts plus, unfortunately, dozens of others tell the story. Young lives lost needlessly. Our papers are filled with the reports of MS-13 gang members being arrested, indicted for violent crimes. Recently, MS-13 members were indicted in Nashville for murder and drug trafficking.

Tennesseans ask me every day what we should do to get the issues that come from illegal immigration into our country under control. The first steps we should take are to build the wall, end chain migration, and end the visa lottery in favor of a merit-based system. There are some other constructive steps that we can take as well. Congress should penalize governments and government officials who refuse to follow federal law by allowing their cities to become sanctuaries for illegal aliens. If you choose to disobey the law, you should not receive federal law enforcement funding. This is a solution I have continued to put forth for over 10 years.

Police also need the authority to check the immigration status of anyone arrested under suspicion of gang activity. Gang members should be immediately deported, along with those who unlawfully entered our country and are arrested for committing violent, sexual or drug-related crimes. These are common sense measures that will make Tennessee more safe and provide greater border security.

The issue of illegal immigration provides a clear policy difference between me and my opponent. As governor, Phil Bredesen adopted policies that encouraged illegal immigration, including issuing legal driving certificates to illegal immigrants. I fought against this initiative because it openly rewarded illegal immigration and undermined the hard work of those who entered our country lawfully. Moreover, it made Tennessee a magnet for illegal immigrants. Giving driver's certificates to illegals is the first step toward enabling sanctuary cities, abolishing ICE, and giving amnesty to those who have broken the law.

So it’s not surprising that Phil Bredesen also opposes securing the southern border. He’s spoken out against the wall, saying that it’s just political theater. He says he's tired of "nibbling around the edges" and wants to get back to big projects. What better way to start than by building the wall. Securing our border isn’t political theater; it’s enforcing the laws of a sovereign nation, and it’s a vital step to keep Americans safe.

We have seen no greater blatant disregard for the rule of law than the Abolish ICE movement from the left. From disrupting child trafficking rings to conducting sting operations against violent gangs like MS-13, ICE works day in and day out to keep Americans safe. ICE serves an important role in combating illegal immigration and should be given the opportunity to ensure proper enforcement of federal immigration laws for the years to come. We need to give them more resources, not take them away. The proposal to abolish such a vital agency is misguided and will result in more crime across the country.

Through stopping sanctuary cities, securing the border, increasing penalties for public officials who violate federal law, and continuing to give ICE the resources it needs to protect Americans, the United States will be much better equipped to stop illegal immigration. As your senator, I will always support policies that keep Americans safe.

Blackburn represents Tennessee’s 7th District and is seeking the open U.S. Senate seat.