Gwinnett Daily Post - Rob Woodall: Opportunity for American Excellence Lies With Successful Immigration Policy

News Article

Date: Aug. 25, 2014

By Kristi Reed

Despite the worsening crisis in the Middle East and a lack of legislative progress in Washington, immigration remains the chief topic of concern for many in the 7th Congressional District.

During his Monday town hall meeting at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville, Rep. Rob Woodall attempted to engage his constituents on topics including Israel, ISIS, Iraq and issues with the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate. Though he had a few takers on the situation in the Middle East and politics in Washington, the topic that generated the most questions -- and the most spirited discussion -- was immigration.

What began as an update regarding the unaccompanied alien children program soon turned to border security with several members of the audience questioning why the United States has not implemented measures to prevent unlawful border crossings -- in particular, an effective wall.

"What it boils down to is, we still don't have a way to stop it," said one audience member. "If we spend the money and build the wall -- as ridiculous as it may sound -- maybe we'd be better off now and, as Gov. Perry has said, sooner or later somebody is going to come across that southern border that we really don't want coming across that border."

Rep. Woodall offered two reasons why existing border protection measures are problematic.

"We funded a wall. We built a wall. There are gaps in the wall so that endangered species will be able to move back and forth freely between the U.S. and Mexico because if you built a solid wall it would have a negative impact on some of the wildlife there -- you think I'm teasing," he said.

Also, he added, there are laws limiting how border patrol agents may pursue those who cross illegally. According to Woodall, border patrol agents can only pursue on horseback in certain areas due to environmental concerns, even if the people they are pursuing use motorized vehicles. A wall, he said, would not solve the problem.

"Here's the thing about a wall," Woodall said. "You could not build a wall high enough or a moat wide enough to keep me and my pregnant wife out."

The knowledge that a border crossing could end with a child born on U.S. soil and enjoying the privileges of citizenship is enough to prompt many to attempt the dangerous trip, he added.

"The problem does not lie with men and women who are trying to build a better life for their families," Woodall said. "The problem does not lie with an America that represents a better life."

The problem, he explained, lies in having laws that are not enforced -- particularly those related to the employment of undocumented workers. As long as people are able to find work and earn money to support their families, he said, they will continue to enter the country legally or not.

"We've got to change our laws," Woodall emphasized, but added that "vibrant" and "robust" immigration is important to the future of the country.

"I love that people want to come to America and there is no pathway forward that I see for American dominance in this world, American excellence in this world -- our opportunity lies with a successful immigration policy," he said.

Insisting that border security is an issue of national security and not immigration, Woodall suggested the focus should be on changing immigration policy.

"The overriding conversation in any immigration discussion should be what's good for America," he said. "That's the only question we have to ask."