Let’s Keep the Border Crisis Out of Louisiana

The border crisis in Texas could potentially become a Louisiana crisis if we’re not careful. I’ve been looking into reports of the Obama Administration attempting to send plane loads and busloads of illegal immigrant children to states around the country, including right here in Louisiana.

Recently the Administration asked if they could relocate some children to the fairgrounds at the Hirsch Coliseum in Shreveport. Hirsch told them no, and so far, there have only been rumors about other locations. I’m hoping you can help me be the eyes and ears on the ground for other attempts by the Obama administration in case I don’t hear about it immediately.

The sad part about this border crisis is that it was completely avoidable. The completely lax enforcement of immigration laws by the Obama administration has only encouraged more immigrants to come to the U.S. illegally.

That’s exactly why we’re seeing the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children arriving at our southern border. I’ve been convincing my colleagues in the Senate that the only way to send a message to others thinking about coming here illegally, is to deport those who are here now by the planeload. We need a policy that actually deters illegal immigration.

So here’s my solution.

Last week I introduced legislation that would halt the influx of unaccompanied alien children coming into the United States illegally by implementing mandatory detention, expedited removal, and reforms to existing trafficking law.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-Baton Rouge) introduced the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Let’s get serious about border security.

There’s a lot our country could do with nearly $4 billion. This week, President Obama asked Congress for a $3.7 billion taxpayer-funded check to subsidize the care and transportation of immigrants coming into our country illegally. I agree this is a humanitarian crisis, but there’s really no mention of stronger border security. Without that, this request won’t fly with me.

Our lax enforcement of immigration laws for decades has only encouraged more immigrants to come here illegally. That’s exactly why we’re seeing the influx of unaccompanied immigrant children arriving at our southern border. We need a policy that actually deters illegal immigration. I’ve said that if we want to send a message to others thinking about coming here illegally, let’s deport these people by the planeload.

The biggest problem is that we can’t trust our President to enforce our current immigration laws. This is the perfect opportunity to prove us wrong, but we aren’t seeing that kind of leadership from President Obama at all. To prove that point: when he was in Texas this week, instead of visiting the border, he was hosting a political fundraiser. 

Click here to watch my statements on the border crisis on the Senate floor.

We want strong, clear, bold action to enforce the law – and change it if necessary – to get our immigration policy right.

This crisis is the perfect test of whether Washington is willing to put its money where its mouth is on border enforcement. But if we won’t take bold action on enforcement during this crisis, it’s clear we never will.

VA Crisis Creeps into Louisiana

Ever since reports of mismanagement at Veterans Affairs clinics across the country starting coming to light, I’ve been doing my best to make sure that these issues aren’t affected veterans in Louisiana. Unfortunately, there are problems here too.

Recent reports have suggested that the Overton Brooks VA Hospital in Shreveport has been keeping a secret wait list and downplaying wait times for veterans. Internal email leaks and employee testimonies are starting to bring the situation in Shreveport into the national spotlight – clearly not in the way we want. I am doing my absolute best to get to the bottom of the situation.

Click here to learn more about the situation at the Overton Brooks VA hospital.

Employees at Overton Brooks say there are multiple lists and spreadsheets of over 2400 patients that have not seen a doctor in as long as 15 months, while about 620 veterans have not seen a doctor at all. In fact, one email even indicates that 37 veterans died while they were on that list. If these allegations are accurate, that’s an outright disservice to the veterans the hospital is meant to serve.

At the same time, I’m looking into a potential cover up by the VA Hospital in New Orleans regarding the recent death of a veteran. A constituent recently came to me with information about her deceased father – a veteran – who received what she described as poor care at the VA health care facility in New Orleans. The VA has refused to provide information to the constituent about her father. That’s just wrong, and the VA needs to be in overdrive working to restore the trust of our veterans. They can start by providing information about what steps they’re taking to address problems like this.

I’m working to get the VA to explain both of these situations, and to have the independent inspector general conduct a full investigation.

In addition to fighting for answers in Shreveport and New Orleans, I am fighting tooth and nail to get two VA clinics built in Lafayette and Lake Charles. Our veterans should not have to travel long distances to receive the healthcare they need. These clinics will give these veterans the quality care they deserve and help alleviate some of the horrible wait times.

If you’ve experienced problems with the VA, or if you have family, friends or neighbors who have, I want to hear your story. Please share your experiences at vitter.senate.gov/va-stories.

Happy 4th of July

Wendy and I want to wish you and your family a happy 4th of July.

Our Founding Fathers declared our nation’s independence under the common belief that freedom could stand up to anyone who threatened it. Over 200 years later, Americans still stand by that same belief.

Our country is the land of the free thanks to the many men and women who have answered the call to serve our country. Just like our Founding Fathers, our service men and women fight for our unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s an honor to serve Louisiana in the U.S. Senate, where I’m constantly reminded of the rights our country has always stood for and those we still work to protect.

I’ll be celebrating the 4th of July and the holiday weekend at a number of events around Louisiana, including visiting with veterans groups in Baton Rouge and New Iberia. Hopefully I’ll see some of you around.

Amidst fireworks, barbecues and gatherings with friends and family, I hope we can all reflect on our many freedoms and thank the men and women who defend us every day.

A Victory for Religious Liberty

Our prayers were answered this week with a crucial victory for religious liberty. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties in deciding that these companies cannot be forced by the government to violate their religious beliefs by providing contraception for their employees.

Basic freedoms and conscience protections had never been under assault like this before —believers were forced to pay for abortion-inducing medicines. The ability to practice the faith we choose is one of our great Constitutional rights, but the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate stomped on that right.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the free exercise of religion. Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate was always unconstitutional, and I’m glad the Supreme Court defended this most fundamental freedom today.