September was a very busy month in our nation’s capital and much was accomplished. I participated in numerous hearings on illegal immigration which is a problem that must be addressed immediately for the security of our nation. Twenty-two field hearings were held on immigration and border security around the country in August. The Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, on which I serve, held a hearing in Gastonia to examine the problem of illegal immigration and to investigate and explore the legislative options before Congress due to the burdens it places on American citizens.
Those hearings, combined with constituent comments made clear that the residents of the 5th district of North Carolina and the nation want border security now. As a result the House of Representatives acted by passing four improved border security bills. I cosponsored all these bills that will secure our borders and make our nation safer from dangerous illegal aliens and terrorists.
They included H.R. 6061, The Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorizes 700 miles of two-layered fencing as well as the authority to disable fleeing vehicles and increased use of advanced technology to monitor the borders. H.R. 6094, The Community Protection Act of 2006 provides for the expedited removal of criminal aliens with a record, detainment and deportation of alien gang members, in addition to authorizing extended detainment time for dangerous aliens who are a threat to the community or national security. H.R. 6095, The Immigration Law Enforcement Act of 2006 reaffirms the authority of state and local law enforcement to perform their duties with regards to illegal aliens, authorizes an increase in attorneys to prosecute alien smugglers and ends the “Catch & Release” program by replacing it with a “Catch & Return” program. Finally, H.R. 4830, The Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2006 criminalizes the construction or financing of any border tunnels and increases criminal penalties of up to 20 years in prison.
In addition to taking up legislation to secure our borders, the House of Representatives also passed a very important bill on earmark reform. H. Res. 1000 provided for transparency and accountability in how the taxpayer dollars are spent. I have always believed that the people know how to spend their money better than the government. By providing transparency and an internet search engine so the taxpayers can see how their money is spent, I am certain it enhances federal fiscal responsibility.
I was in Yadkinville on September 11th to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It was a lovely ceremony and I was honored to be a part of it. The losses our nation felt that day can never be replaced, but we cannot, and will not back down from the terrorists. They will be defeated on their land and on our terms. Our country has unparalleled resolve and strength. Ronald Reagan once said, “Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the worlds, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have.” That is why America will never give up or back down in the global war on terror.
The House and Senate passed and sent to the President two pieces of legislation the last week in September that will help us achieve victory in the war on terror. H.R. 6155, The Military Commissions Act of 2006 establishes military tribunals which will provide the basic rights of legal counsel, the right to obtain evidence and witnesses and the right to appeal a guilty verdict. This bill also protects the disclosure of classified terrorists on trial and codifies Article 3 of the Geneva Convention to clarify vague provisions regarding interrogation of enemy combatants. The second bill is H.R. 5825, The Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act which updates our foreign intelligence surveillance laws to fit the needs of the 21st Century and eliminates red tape, streamlining the process to obtain a FISA warrant. These bills will provide the Administration and the intelligence community the tools and authority needed to safeguard our troops and our homeland to win the war on terror.
All the bills passed in September are significant ones that will not only allow for accountability in the expenditure of taxpayer dollars but also are vital bills to secure the border and our nation. There is much to be done in these areas but Congress took critical steps in the right direction.
Editor’s Note: Virginia Foxx is a United States Representative from North Carolina’s Fifth Congressional District. You may contact her office toll free at 1-866-677-8968 or e-mail her from her website, www.foxx.house.gov.