Simpson, whose District 7 includes Gregg and Upshur counties, narrated a lengthy slide show of his recent week-long visit to the Rio Grande Valley, where he spent what he termed a “working vacation” learning about immigration and border security.
He also fielded several questions from the audience, which applauded him near the end of the nearly two-hour gathering at the Upshur-Rural Electric Cooperative auditorium.
“The border is insecure” and “the federal government is not doing its job,” Simpson asserted.
Children who flee to America are being entrusted to relatives who may not be legal residents here themselves, he said. In addition, he outlined ways in which those who immigrate illegally receive better treatment than those who come legally.
While legal immigrants receive only a cursory medical screening, and background checks on them require two years, those entering illegally receive in-depth medical screening and wait only days for background checks, the representative said.
“We attract illegal aliens and residents” by providing public health care and education, Simpson argued. While “there’s a place for having mercy” on those fleeing such conditions as murder, slavery and prostitution, he added, “I’m not for amnesty.
“I just want them to come the right way,” he explained.
While discussing his slide show, entitled “A Sobering and Beautiful Week on the Rio Grande--June 30-July 6,” Simpson quoted a woman who is a first-generation American store clerk as telling him, “Her main recommendation was ‘stop the freebies and help us out, sir.’”
The woman complained “I feel it’s not right (to give free benefits to immigrants) because my kids don’t qualify for any of that.” She also said women who enter the country with children get food stamps and insurance, and “we’re paying for it.”
The clerk further complained that people were entering America with thousands of dollars worth of food stamps, showing they are being sold. Simpson noted she additionally declared that “we need to change the birthright citizenship policy” (that anyone born in the United States is automatically an American citizen) because that is the only way people will stop immigrating illegally.
Contending that such immigration is “mainly a federal problem,” Simpson proposed the national government provide resources to custom and border patrol officers, allow law enforcement greater access to federal lands along the border, and have a “swift determination” of which persons are seeking asylum from bad conditions in their nations.
He further proposed reducing governmental welfare by relying more on charities and requiring legal status for birthright citizenship.
Meantime, he said, the state government can ease the immigration problem by requiring compliance with immigration law for children entering grades K-12, reducing unemploymeht payments, providing only critical emergency health care, and eventually overturning a federal mandate requiring the education of aliens who entered the country illegally, or who still reside in Mexico.
Simpson said he understood that 4,400 new immigrant children will be attending Texas public schools this year.
“One man told me, ‘Let’s just shoot a couple of the kids. That’ll stop them from coming,’” Simpson recalled. But that won’t “win friends and influence people,” the legislator argued.
Even illegal immigrants are “made in the image of God” and need to be treated “with dignity,” said Simpson, citing various Biblical verses to support his view.
Simpson said the border should be secured and controlled, but that people should not be walled in and out as they once were in Berlin. “There is a place for a (guest) worker program,” he argued, adding, “We want to stop the criminal and the terrorist, but we want to welcome the hard-working, God-fearing.”
He also said he wanted to “enlarge the legal process for coming here” for those who are “not going to be dependent” on governmental benefits.
During his trip to the valley, Simpson said he visited border patrol stations, toured a short-term shelter, and interviewed more than two dozen persons.