Roe emphasizes need for border wall, immigration reform during Erwin town hall

Zach Vance • Apr 23, 2019 at 8:55 PM

ERWIN — U.S. Rep. Phil Roe held his second town hall meeting of this month on Tuesday in Unicoi County, where he discussed a range of topics, including the need for immigration reform.

With a little more than a dozen people in attendance, Roe unloaded a multitude of statistics that he believes supports President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a border wall.

“Here’s an amazing statistic: In 2006, our current speaker of the House and our leader of the House, both of them voted for 700 miles of border fencing. We have 654 miles we’ve already built right now,” Roe said.

“In the places (where border fencing was built), San Diego’s illegal crossings are down 92%. In El Paso, down 95%. In Tucson, down 90%, and Yuma, down 95%. So everywhere we’ve built fencing, we’ve decreased illegal crossings.”

Similar to the response he received at last week’s town hall in Blountville, Roe asked attendees to raise their hand if they were in support of open borders. As expected, not a single person raised their hand.

Roe and his chief of staff recently traveled to the border to get informed on what was happening there, where he met border patrol agents and toured a legal point of entry in El Paso, where he said 700 or 800 immigrants were awaiting evaluation.

“Here is another little factoid I learned: In a year, we deport the same amount of people that are illegally coming into our country in three days,” Roe said.

To enhance the country’s immigration system, Roe called for ending chain migration and the green card lottery programs, while instituting a merit-based immigration system.

The congressman also claimed an April 19 Letter to the Editor, published in the Johnson City Press was inaccurate when the writer suggested Roe said El Paso is the fourth-most dangerous city in the world.

“She didn’t listen to me. I’m going to have to write a letter and answer this lady who didn’t listen to a thing I said. It’s Juarez, Mexico (that’s the fourth-most dangerous city in the world),” Roe said.

While he spent most of the meeting discussing immigration, Roe also discussed a few veteran issues and applauded the the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for bolstering the American economy.

“I don’t remember ever a better economy for young people to get a job,” he said.  

As former chairman and current ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Roe said the Veterans Affairs budget totaled $97.5 billion when he was first elected to Congress more than 10 years ago. Roe said the president is proposing the VA budget for this year be around $220 billion.

“America spends more money on our nation’s veterans than all of the nations in the world put together, period. And I apologize none for that,” the sixth-term congressman said.

The VA Mission Act, a law reforming how veterans receive health care outside of VA facilities, is expected to take effect in June.

Roe also encouraged any veteran in his district wanting to share their story of serving to contact his office.

For the next two years, Terry Harris will work with Roe as a fellow for the Veterans History Project. In that role, Harris will collect and archive veteran stories in the Library of Congress for future generations to read.

Harris can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 423-254-1400.

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