John Ratcliffe made his first official visit to Hopkins County Tuesday after defeating long-time Congressman Ralph Hall in the runoff for the 4th Congressional District. Ratcliffe visited with county residents during a meet and greet event Tuesday evening at Coffee Off The Square and took some time to talk about the recent increase in the numbers of children from Central American countries coming into the United States Illegally. The congressman-elect, who is bringing experience into the situation due to his work for the US attorney general and the Department of Homeland Security, said the recent influx of children from Central America is not really anything new, there are just more of them. “It's not a sudden deal, it is something that has escalated recently,” he said. “There is a direct correlation there that relates to President Obama's enforcement, or lack of enforcement, policies with respect to immigration. It has been a problem, frankly, for years.” Although Ratcliffe applauded Gov. Rick Perry for mobilizing the National Guard and State Guard to the border area, he did not think it would offer a real, permanent solution to the problem. “One thing I learned about the border during my time there is that border security is an issue of national security, an issue of drug trafficking, an issue of human trafficking and an issue of immigration,” he said. “In this case, essentially, what we've seen is countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and the governments there basically encouraging their people to come to the United States because they know the Obama Administration's lack of enforcement of immigration laws that are already on the books will mean that all of those kids will, eventually, end up staying here in the United States.” Ratcliffe said the problem will continue to grow and there needs to be consequences for those countries that endorse illegal immigration to the U.S. “I think this problem is only going to get worse if the president doesn't take specific action to discourage it,” he said. “If you don't send that message, if you say you are going to tolerate it ,then [the problem] is only going to get worse and, right now, we are sending a message of tolerance.” Cutting off or reducing the amount of foreign aid sent to the offending countries, Ratcliffe indicated, might send the message. When he assumes his role in Congress next year, Ratcliffe said immigration will be one of the issues he addresses. “Immigration is obviously going to be a problem that I am going to deal with in my time in Congress,” Ratcliffe said. “I'm of the opinion that there cannot be comprehensive immigration reform. I think that we are going to have to approach these problems in a piece-meal fashion so, dealing with the crisis at the border right now is one that you can deal with by considering the aid, withholding aid, or other de facto sanctions against other countries.” Amnesty for illegal aliens already in this country is another Issue Ratcliffe said will need to be addressed in Congress, and that this amnesty is something he will not support.
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