Rep. Ed Royce, California Republican, is planning to introduce a national-level version of contentious Arizona state Senate Bill 1070, The Daily Caller has learned. Royce, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade subcommittee, told TheDC his legislation would give state-level cops and local law enforcement nationwide the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
Royce is planning to introduce the new legislation soon and said, in addition to giving state and local law enforcement more authority, it “establishes operational control of the border” by sending more fencing to the border and keeping the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture from over-regulating how Border Patrol officials put together fences and work on federal lands.
“All the Border Patrol agents are swearing by it [building a fence and keeping the regulatory powers of the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture at a minimum],” Royce said. “So, that’s part of establishing operational control.”
The third major part of Royce’s legislation would require Homeland Security to review all visas from certain “high-risk” consulate posts. He said the bill would require DHS to “sit down face-to-face” with every visa-holder from these high-risk posts and re-interview them to make sure they’re in compliance.
“What we want to do is set up a system where we are able to make certain that, when people come into the country on a visa, we know when they’re leaving and we know if they’ve left,” Royce said. He also said the bill would allow DHS to “target” individuals from countries with a history of aiding or abetting terrorists.
Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, said he supports the idea behind what Royce is trying to do, but that he’d have to read the language of Royce’s legislation before he joins as a cosponsor.
“Congress needs to say to the Department of the Interior and to the other agencies that our natural resources and sovereignty are being trampled by illegal immigration,” King told TheDC. “We need to continue to build a fence, a wall and a fence. It makes every officer we have more effective.”
Royce, King and Rep. Phil Gingrey, Georgia Republican, just finished a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday, and found a much different border security situation than Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the country about on Monday. Royce said people in border communities “all perceived a much higher level of violence than they’ve seen in the past, much more vandalism and many more threats.”
“Basically, what you have is a situation where smugglers are so well-armed now with assault rifles and high-tech equipment like GPS cell phones and scanners,” Royce told TheDC in a phone interview from Tucson, Arizona. “One of the examples we were given by the Border Patrol here is that they [drug cartel members] have set up their own communication relay stations into Mexico, and, as a result of all of this, it’s affecting kidnappings, businessmen and ranchers and farmers are all affected by this.”
Before a University of Texas at El Paso audience on Monday, Napolitano said that the border was safe and that border security critics are exaggerating border problems for political purposes.
“It is inaccurate to state, as too many have, that the border is overrun with violence and out of control,” Napolitano said in prepared remarks. “This statement – often made only to score political points – is just plain wrong.”