Foxx talks immigration, security
By Jamie Shell, Avery Journal-Times
Editor’s Note: Congresswoman Virginia Foxx visited Avery County on Jan. 18, and sat down with the staff of The AJT for an exclusive interview covering a variety of issues. This is the second of a two-part series stemming from that conversation, as reported by AJT intern Katie Murawski.
As Avery County native and U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx enters a new session in Washington, D.C., the nation is rife with hot-button issues that continue to spark conversation and action on both sides of the aisle.
One issue that has sparked debate, protests and rancor is the matter of immigration. President Donald Trump was open and direct during his campaign last year regarding his desire to build a wall on America’s southern border to stem the tide of illegal immigration into the U.S., while also promoting to protect America’s safety and interests.
Foxx said she hope to see the things that President Trump promised. Specifically, she wants to see him fulfill his promise of building the wall.
“I went to Congress in 2005 we passed legislation then to build a wall, on our southern border and actually some of that wall got built,” Foxx said. “Then we lost the majority in 2006, Nancy Pelosi came in and stopped the wall, so this is not a new idea to Republicans.”
On Friday, Jan. 27, President Trump signed an executive order which suspended new refugee admissions for 120 days. It capped the total number of refugees allowed into the country this year at 50,000, while travelers from seven countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia — are barred for 90 days.
Foxx said that national security is Republicans’ number one issue. She said there is no national security unless borders are secured. Not just the southern border, but the northern border, the eastern border and western border. Foxx said Republicans have concerns for the entire country, not just for a specific group of people.
“Our immigration system has failed us, and we need to revise how we handle immigration,” Foxx said. “Forty percent of the illegal aliens, and by the way, ‘illegal alien’ is the appropriate term, the illegal aliens here came legally on a visa and have overstayed their visa. So, this is not aimed at any one group of people; this is aimed at anybody who breaks the law.”
Foxx shared her own family history, of how her grandparents came to the U.S. in the early 1900s. Her father’s parents were immigrants, while her mother’s family has been in this country since before the Revolutionary War. When her father’s parents arrived at Ellis Island, she said they were screened for their health, they were screened to know that somebody was sponsoring them here ,where they would have a job and not be a burden on the American people already here.
“We have a history of immigration, but of smart immigration,” Foxx said. “Of saying, ‘we want people here who are going to improve our way of life.’ We will continue to do that; there is no reason not to do that.”
Foxx said, as she has understood, if borders were opened that allowed anyone who wanted to come to do so, she estimated that 400 million people would come. Foxx went on to explain that North America could not absorb that many new individuals, and added that over the history of this country “many people forget that immigration was controlled, very controlled.”
“I went back to Ellis Island several years ago. They had hospitals there, so if someone came in sick and they couldn’t get better, they would put them on a ship and send them back, so there was a really strict screening process done,” Foxx said. “Now did people get in here illegally at that time? I have no doubt that they did. We have always had illegals coming into this country every since we had the law, but we should know who is in and who is coming into this country. We should know and have some certainty that a person is not coming to do harm, but wants to be a positive member of our society.”
An area where immigration touches the local scene is the employment of migrant workers within the local Christmas tree industry. “Such opportunity is what caused many people to start coming here illegally, but we have many industries in this country, including agriculture, poultry and construction; we have many industries in this country that truly need migrant workers,” Foxx said.
Foxx advocated an idea of a program that allowed employers the flexibility to be able to bring people in from across the southern border and have them work as long as they have a job available, then return back and forth across the border. Foxx said there would not be as much immigration if you had that kind of system. Foxx also cited the Braceros program that was implemented from the 1950s to 1970s which allowed people to come to America to work. Foxx explained that migrant workers had legal papers, came in and worked for a period of time, then returned home, adding that the unions in the U.S. protested that program, which led to the suspension of the Braceros program.
In addition to border and security matters, Foxx shared that the desire of she and her Republican colleagues in Congress includes not only securing the borders and national defense, but repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, and giving people a patient-centered health care program. She said she wants to get people out of poverty and working again.
“We want to reform the tax code. We worked hand-in-glove with the President-elect after he was selected by the American people to spread this program,” Foxx said. “Again we developed a better way before we knew who the Republican candidate was going to be, hoping that the candidate would embrace what it is we we’re suggesting.”
Foxx said she and the Republican party were delighted with Vice President Mike Pence, as he is a former member and colleague of the House.
“He has such great experience,” Foxx said. “He was a House member, then he became a governor. You couldn’t ask for a better person with better experience than Mike Pence has had.”
Foxx encouraged citizens in Avery County and throughout her district to contact her office with concerns or questions as she begins her term in Congress.
“If there is a particular issue involving education or workforce that is a concern to people in this area that relates to the federal government, they should come to me,” Foxx said.
“If there’s a regulation, rule or policy that is impacting them that could be changed, I would be happy to look into that.”
Foxx can be reached through her website by clicking to foxx.house.gov.