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News / Northwest

Newhouse says US needs ‘controlled immigration system’ at Mexico border

By Gabriel Garcia, The Wenatchee World
Published: February 14, 2024, 10:14am

TUCSON — U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA-4) led 15 members of the Congressional Western Caucus to the U.S./Mexico border in Arizona on Thursday.

During an online press conference from Tucson, after touring part of the border in the Coronado National Memorial, Newhouse said he wanted to show the caucus a first-hand look at the “influx of illegal immigration.”

Newhouse said he spoke to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, local county sheriffs, farmers, and business owners to understand what their communities are experiencing.

He said migrants crossing the U.S./Mexico border have damaged federal lands, trampled important plant life, and caused farm crops to become unsalvageable from damage, along with home break-ins for food and clothes.

“That’s one of the reasons why we’re down here, to hear from the people who are in the middle of this as to what will be helpful,” Newhouse said.

He said members of the caucus held a House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee field hearing to examine the environmental impacts of the border crossing of migrants.

“If we don’t take action to get control of this border — it’s impacting every single community in every state in the country,” Newhouse said.

He said along with the environmental impact in the Arizona communities, drugs are smuggled in from Mexico and drug traffickers transport those up to Washington, causing “negative impacts” in Washington.

Communication director for Newhouse, Matthew Reed, cited a Seattle Times article after the conference to support Newhouse’s claim.

One solution Newhouse said he supports is the H.R.2., the Secure the Border Act of 2023.

The bill, passed by House in May 2023, would require the Department of Homeland Security to resume activities related to constructing a wall along the border, require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to submit a strategic five-year technology investment plan to Congress, and more.

Newhouse said the Senate needs to pass the bill.

“We have already passed legislation out of the House into the Senate,” Newhouse said. “Even if there are parts we don’t agree with, we can certainly come together and debate or discuss and I hope we can come to some kind of solution.”

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Another piece of legislation that Newhouse said he supports that would deter illegal crossings at the border is H.R.4319, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, introduced in June 2023.

The bill would allow temporary agricultural workers on guest visas and their families to apply for permanent residency after meeting requirements, along with various changes to the current guest worker visa systems.

“That, I think, is part of the solution that gives people a legal way to come to the country; they won’t feel compelled to use coyotes and cartels that cost them so much money to get across the border. We’re working to get that through the House and have the Senate consider that, as well.”

Newhouse acknowledged the process to pass legislation is slow.

“Things are frustratingly slow. But efforts are going on right now and debates and discussions are happening on how we can address this,” Newhouse said.

Newhouse said the legislation he supports is not to stop immigration, but to change the system.

“Not that we don’t want immigration, but it has to be a controlled immigration system that we use so we know who’s coming, and we know what their intentions (are) for coming.”

Last week, Newhouse sent a letter to the U.S. Postmaster General and the Western States Government Relations Liaison Director Jennifer Selde with concerns about proposed changes in mail operations at the Wenatchee and Yakima mail distribution centers.

In November, the United States Postal Service announced proposed changes at its Wenatchee Processing and Distribution Center.

“The new USPS proposal to move some Wenatchee and Yakima post office operations to Spokane and Seattle will slow the already frustrating process of mail delivery to our rural communities.” Newhouse wrote in his letter. “This proposal will also make mail-in voting more difficult for our region, and it is crucial that we maintain the standards that the American people both expect and deserve. I am urging the U.S. Postmaster General to reconsider this unreliable proposal for the sake of their customers and voters.”