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Home   /   Capitol Connection   /   Capitol Connection 03/27/2006

 
Rep. Taylor Still Vigilant Against Forest Land Sale

Several weeks ago, I shared with you my strong opposition to the Administration’s proposal to sell more than 300,000 acres of national forest land. Today, I sent a letter to my colleague Jim Nussle, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, sharing that same opposition with him – and asking that he reject any attempts to include the proposal as part of the Fiscal Year 2007 Congressional Budget Resolution.

Since the proposal was first hinted at in early February, Congress has spoken in a rare bipartisan manner to make clear that this land sale is not welcome on any legislative vehicle. In fact, the President sent a draft of legislation requesting approval of the land sale to the House and Senate on March 16th, but that draft remains in well-deserved limbo. Without a sponsor in either chamber to move it through the legislative process, the proposal is dead on arrival; it will go nowhere.

My letter to Chairman Nussle alerts him to the widespread opposition to the proposed forest land sale among many in the House – Republican and Democrat alike. We will remain vigilant throughout the year, and take every opportunity to prevent it from being resurrected, whether through the Budget and Appropriations processes, or as stand-alone legislation.

Congress should now focus on the underlying reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, the funds from which are so important to numerous counties in Western North Carolina. In doing so, however, we should not engage in this ill-advised, wholesale disposition of our national forest lands as a short-term means to pay for it.



Immigration Reform

Over the weekend, it is very likely that you saw reports of protests across the country regarding the issue of immigration. While many hundreds of thousands of individuals took part, they did not support respect for our nation’s existing immigration laws – rather, they called for special rights and privileges for those who have already broken our laws. It is extremely disappointing that these protesters gathered to voice their support for an illegal act.

The United States Senate is expected this week to consider the immigration reform legislation passed by the House last December. I believe that this legislation is an important component in addressing our growing immigration challenges. It is but one piece of comprehensive immigration reform, but a vital one. Once we act to secure our borders and focus greater resources on enforcement, we can then turn our attention to legislation that will streamline the citizenship process and strengthen the agricultural and business sectors which depend upon the labor of migrant workers.

Highlights of H.R. 4437, the Border Security Act, include the following:

  • The bill institutes an employment eligibility verification system in which employers will check the Social Security numbers and alien identification numbers (provided by employees) against Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records, to weed out fraudulent numbers and ensure that their employees are not working in the U.S. illegally.
  • The bill would greatly increase criminal penalties for alien smuggling through such devices as establishing mandatory minimum prison sentences. These provisions were recommended by a panel of border-area U.S. Attorneys to make it easier to deport smugglers and illegal entrants.
  • Provisions would stiffen penalties for aliens who re-enter the United States after having been removed.
  • The legislation would bar aggravated felons (crimes of violence) from entering the country, and would prohibit green cards to those convicted of crimes of violence.
  • Provisions in the bill would authorize and reimburse local sheriffs in the 29 counties along the southern border to enforce the immigration laws and transfer illegal aliens to federal custody. It also specifically reimburses those sheriffs for costs associated with detaining illegal aliens whom they arrest, until they are able to hand them over to federal authorities.
  • Bars aliens who are potential terrorists or security risks from becoming U.S. citizens.
  • Would make multiple DUI offenses a deportable offense for all aliens.

In addition, H.R. 4437 ends the practice known as "catch and release." This year alone, 115,000 aliens from countries other than Mexico have been apprehended and released due to a lack of detention space. The legislation requires mandatory detention for all those apprehended at U.S. land borders attempting to cross illegally, and states that they must remain in custody until removal from the United States.



Summer Internships in Washington

I am looking for students to serve as summer interns in my Washington, DC office who have completed at least their second year of college, have a keen interest in government, and are willing to work long hours.

The Summer Intern Program is divided into two six-week sessions. The first session will begin Tuesday, May 30, 2006 and will end Friday, July 7, 2006; the second session will begin Monday, July 10, 2006 and conclude Friday, August 18, 2006. The program provides a $200 per-week stipend, and although no housing is provided, we do have information on housing in the area.

Please send a resume with cover letter, a brief (1-2 pages) writing sample, and 2 letters of recommendation to the attention of Michael Calvo of my Washington staff by this Friday, March 31, 2006. You may also email this information to Michael at michael.calvo@mail.house.gov or mail your information to the following address:

339 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Internships are also available during the school year. If you have an interest in serving during this time, please send the same information that is requested above and what period of time you would be available.