February 24, 2012

Isakson says U.S. needs more enforcement of immigration laws

Charles Oliver

The Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office should be able to continue taking part in a federal program that lets it determine if people booked into the jail are in the country illegally, says U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

But an Obama administration proposal would bar other law enforcement agencies across the country from joining in the program, he added.

Isakson spoke Thursday afternoon to about 75 people in Dalton State College’s Goodroe Auditorium on a variety of subjects ranging from immigration to the federal budget to economic development.

Tunnel Hill resident Lawrence Headrick asked about the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed 2013 budget, which says the agency will save $17 million by not signing new 287(g) contracts and canceling the “least productive” of those agreements.

“Whitfield will continue to have 287(g), but there will be no new ones,” Isakson said.

Isakson said he did not agree with the Obama administrations plans to curtail the program, which trains and authorizes local officers to help enforce immigration law.

“We need more enforcement of our immigration laws, not less,” he said.

Isakson said he also disagreed with President Barack Obama’s decision to deny a permit to the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oil from Canada to refineries in Texas.

“From day one, this project would employ 20,000 people in the United States,” he said.

Isakson said environmental regulators in every state it would pass through have approved the project. But now that Obama has denied it a permit, Canada is looking to build a pipeline to Vancouver and ship the oil, some 70,000 barrels a day, to China.

Isakson said that oil could help make the United States less dependent upon nations that are hostile to it for fuel.

“America needs to be energy independent. As long as you are dependent upon someone else, to some extent your destiny is controlled by them,” Isakson said.

Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb asked if the $15.4 trillion federal debt is not only an economic danger but a security issue as well, especially since China owns much of that debt.

Isakson said it is and if interest rates start to go up the costs to pay that debt could soar quickly, pointing to his own background in real estate.

“You don’t do real estate without some leverage, but too much leverage will kill you,” he said.

Isakson said there is bipartisan support at both the federal and state levels for deepening the Port of Savannah, a project he said is necessary to handle the larger ships that will be docking there after the Panama Canal is widened. Isakson said the port and trade through it already support 295,600 Georgia jobs and can support more after it is widened.