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LaMalfa urges Senate, Obama to act on border bills

Tim Hearden

Capital Press

A congressman who sits on the House of Representatives' agriculture committee is calling for President Barack Obama and the Senate to act on border security legislation that recently passed the lower chamber. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a rice farmer, has said he favors immigration reform but said an open border would cause chaos.

REDDING, Calif. — U.s. Rep. Doug LaMalfa is urging President Barack Obama to abandon talk of issuing executive orders on immigration and instead embrace border-security bills that recently passed the House of Representatives.

LaMalfa, R-Calif., a rice grower who sits on the lower chamber’s agriculture committee, said the president should call for the Senate to return to session and act on legislation that House members passed just before leaving Washington, D.C., for their August recess.

“I expect him to do the right thing,” LaMalfa told the Capital Press. “I don’t want to send any signal that we expect him to do the wrong thing.

“If he issues an executive order, we’re going to have problems,” the congressman said. “We’re not going to fund his executive order.”

LaMalfa’s remarks followed a nearly two-hour town-hall meeting at the city library here on Aug. 18, at which immigration and border security were key topics.

House Republicans on Aug. 1 pushed through a $694 million border security bill that would provide $35 million for National Guard troops stationed on the border and clarify a provision on quickly returning unaccompanied minors from Central America to their home countries, according to The Associated Press.

A second bill targets Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which directs agencies not to take action against illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Republicans blame the DACA program for the 57,000 unaccompanied minors who have flooded across the southern border since last October, according to Breitbart News.

However, the Senate has blocked its version of a border-security bill, and Obama has said he’d veto the House versions if they came to his desk. LaMalfa told about 50 area residents the U.S. government is “sending a very mixed signal” about the nation’s laws with the DACA program and a relaxed interpretation of a law granting political asylum.

The immigration bills are among about 350 piece of legislation that passed the House in the current session but died in the Senate, the congressman said.

“The House has been doing its work in the last year and a half,” he said. “If you don’t like what is happening, call your senators.”

The conservative LaMalfa said earlier this year that he had made a “pivot” on immigration reform and now believes it should be done this year. He said he had been swayed by conversations with farmers — particularly in the nursery industry – who have suffered through labor shortages in recent years.

But an open border would bring chaos and impact the social system, he said on Aug. 18. He noted that many schools are not prepared for the hordes of immigrants who will show up for classes this fall.

Many of his constituents agreed. Alex Landi of Redding said immigration impacts every facet of life in California.

“We’re now 40 million people in this state,” he said. “When it’s 60 million, all years are going to be drought years, and drought years are going to be a disaster.”

LaMalfa said that whatever reforms are enacted, the U.S. must enforce the border laws that are on the books. The government should also streamline the process for applying for work visas and citizenship, he said.

Right now, “there’s really no trust that the government’s going to enforce the laws that you put in place,” he said.


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