As a former law enforcement officer and official at the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, I have served on the front lines in our struggle to keep our city, state and country safe. In Congress, I look to carry on this work by ensuring that our brave first responders get the resources they need to respond to emergencies.
Supporting Police and Fire Departments
Over the last few years, Indianapolis has seen a significant spike in violence, leaving neighborhoods calling for help. Whether resulting from drugs, gangs or any other cause, one thing is clear--our police need better resources to keep our streets safe. To rectify this problem, I have advocated for increased funding for programs like the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program and the COPS Hiring Program, which help to increase the number of well trained and well equipped officers on our streets.
Similarly, I understand the massive challenges faced by our fire departments, which are struggling to secure the basic equipment they need to respond to emergencies. This is why I have pushed for increased funding for the Fire Assistance Grant Program. This important program awarded numerous competitive grants to Indianapolis, enabling our first responders to hire additional staff and purchase the equipment necessary to keep our city safe and secure. While I believe it is important for us to reduce our deficit, I do not believe that it should accomplished by cutting any of these grants for first responders and the people they protect.
Preventing Drug Violence on Our Border
For the last several years, we have witnessed spikes in drug related violence along the United States-Mexico border. This violence, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives, has spilled over the border and resulted in the assault and murder of American citizens. We are also seeing significant drug trafficking and drug use in Indiana, tragically taking many more lives.
I strongly support the Obama Administration's efforts to quell violence along our border and protect innocent Americans against traffickers, who are flooding our streets with dangerous drugs and deadly gang violence. By equipping and deploying hundreds of additional border agents to the most vulnerable parts of our border, the President has sent a strong signal to gangs and drug cartels that the United States will not tolerate lawlessness and brutality. Going forward, I will continue to press my colleagues in the House to support Mexico's efforts to crack down on drug trafficking and gang violence.
Pursuing Comprehensive Immigration Reform
An estimated 11 million people are living in the United States without documentation of citizenship or residency status. Like many Hoosiers, I believe the best and safest way for individuals to enter the United States is through the appropriate legal channels set up to distribute visas. Unfortunately, this system is broken: it does not reflect our workforce needs, many families are separated for decades due to backlogs and some individuals have no pathway to pursue legal immigration.
For the last few years, I remained optimistic that Congress would finally address these issues by passing comprehensive immigration reform. I cosponsored bipartisan legislation that included strengthening our borders, increasing workforce protections and providing a roadmap to eventual citizenship. While I continue to encourage Congressional leaders to act, I support President Obama's plans to temporarily protect from deportation the parents of U.S. citizen children and young people who have called this country home for most of their lives through his Executive Orders on Deferred Action Parental Accountability and Deferred Action Childhood Arrival. These Orders, announced in late 2014, do not grant citizenship. Instead, they ensure that we use our limited federal resources to deport criminals rather than separate families.