Law Enforcement and Liberty

June 16, 2020
Newsletter
Friday, June 12, 2020

 

Dear Friend,

Public safety and security, including the security of America’s border, remains a serious challenge for our nation.  This week, I joined a fact-finding trip to the US-Mexico border with a group of fellow lawmakers, and can report to you that the situation there is even more dire than we expected.

Our group had the opportunity to meet with hard-working, front-line officers from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Border Patrol, local sheriff’s departments as well as local ranchers and others who live and work each day on America’s front line. We viewed new sections of the badly needed border wall being constructed south of Sierra Vista, Arizona, and learned about how these agencies, in cooperation with local communities, are working around-the-clock to gain operational control of the border and confront the transnational threats posed by groups that traffic in narcotics, weapons and human misery. Despite the efforts by these dedicated public servants, we continue to face a humanitarian and national security crisis at our border.


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Rep. Tiffany, along with fellow members of Congress, visit the newly installed border wall in Cochise County, Arizona.


I am grateful for the time that some of Arizona’s “top cops,” including Sheriff Mark Dannels of Cochise County and Sheriff Mark Lamb of Pinal County, spent briefing us on their efforts to stop the flood of illegal aliens and drugs pouring into the United States. In the face of death threats, Sheriff Dannels has created a model for the kind of coordinated, interagency partnership between local, state and federal law enforcement to address multiple security challenges.  Our approach at the national level should be guided by people like Sheriff Dannels, who face these threats on a daily basis and are well positioned to lead an effective response.

The good news is that Border Patrol officers and other experts told our group that the wall is having a positive effect as a force multiplier for agents on the ground, improving security and reducing illegal entries. However, they emphasized the wall by itself will not solve the problem. They need improved technology as they take on well-funded drug cartels – things like cameras, drones, more airborne assets and additional manpower. I would add one other item to that list of needs:  Political will in Washington D.C., which, unfortunately, is in short supply in the U.S. House of Representatives.

There are also some lesser known challenges our porous border presents – challenges that don’t get much attention:  Environmental destruction and growing threats to private property. 

In recent years, for example, officials saw 250,000 acres burn in the Chiricahua Mountains as a result of smugglers setting brushfires as a diversionary tactic to make it easier for them to evade law enforcement, and illegal aliens letting campfires get away from them. Bags and bottles are strewn everywhere along highways, littering the landscape and destroying sensitive ecological resources.  The picture is equally bleak when it comes to private property.  Not only does heavy illegal alien traffic trample the landscape, it threatens the safety of local residents.  One rancher has faced 16 attempted break-ins and four home invasions, and we were briefed on one recent case that involved the tragic murder of a member of a ranching family. 

The trip to our southern border was an eye-opening experience.  Now, we need leaders who will fulfill what remains a fundamental duty of the federal government— securing our border.


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Rep. Tiffany meets with Pinal County Sheriff, Mark Lamb.


But it isn’t just the US-Mexico border where Americans are facing threats to public safety and outbreaks of lawlessness. 

In recent weeks, we’ve watched demonstrations that began as peaceful protests against the indefensible actions of a few Minneapolis police officers that led to the tragic death of George Floyd morph into dangerous, violent riots.

We’ve seen innocent people forced to watch as businesses they spent their whole lives building were ransacked and robbed and their communities burned to the ground – a grim spectacle that was repeated in multiple cities across our country, day after day.

Peaceful protest is a constitutionally guaranteed right. And that right must be protected for all Americans – whether they are protesting against business closures or police misconduct.  But arson, vandalism, theft, looting, property destruction and physical assaults are not peaceful protest. They are illegal, and lawlessness must not be tolerated.

Even worse, some irresponsible local officials and even Members of Congress have responded to these tragedies by demanding that we “defund” and “dismantle” the police – dangerous, fringe ideas that would only encourage more of the criminal activity that we’ve seen in recent weeks.

To be clear, all government agencies and programs – including those with law enforcement functions – benefit from regular reviews, smart reforms, proper oversight and appropriate transparency.  That’s just good government.  But abolishing entire police departments in response to the indefensible actions of a few bad actors isn’t just foolish, it is dangerous.  The vast majority of our local law enforcement officers work hard every day to protect our neighborhoods and uphold our laws, and no Americans will be well-served by the enactment of extreme and misguided policies that would undermine their ability to keep our communities safe – or give criminal elements free rein in our communities.

On a more positive note, the economy is beginning to recover as many unfair and arbitrary state-imposed business closures are rolling back. Last month alone, we saw US employers add 2.5 million jobs -- the biggest one-month increase on record.  That is good news, and it is a testament to the determination and entrepreneurial spirit of American workers and job creators during very challenging times.

We also learned that Wisconsin’s reopening has been a success, despite what some of the critics kept telling us.  A recent study published by the Bureau of Economic Research showed “’no evidence’ that the sudden lifting of Wisconsin’s [business closure] order ‘impacted social distancing, COVID-19 cases, or COVID-19 mortality’ [and that the research]…fail[ed] to detect any evidence that the Wisconsin Supreme Court order affected COVID-19 health.’”  This is all good news, but we must be careful to ensure that local governments do not take steps that arbitrarily slow the reopening process and hinder our recovery.

And business closures aren’t the only obstacle folks are facing as we all try to get back to normal.

As a father, I have seen first-hand how open-ended school shutdowns are harming the education of our kids.  These shutdowns have set our students back, they have made it harder for our teachers to teach, and they have pushed many parents – already juggling multiple responsibilities and struggling to make ends meet – to the breaking point. Moreover, recent research indicates that distance learning, which has been plagued by unreliable internet connections and a lack of access by some families to the latest computer technology, is already causing our students to lose ground in reading and math.

It’s time to get our kids back on track with their studies, and that means getting them back into the classroom. 

That’s why this week, I joined Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana to introduce the Reopen Our Schools Act, which would push schools to reopen for in-person instruction by the time school starts in the fall. Reopening our schools safely while also protecting our elderly, vulnerable and at risk neighbors are not mutually exclusive, and I believe we can do both.

Finally, I remain hopeful that we can work together to keep our economic recovery on track when Congress reconvenes later this month. And my offices and staff are committed to assisting you and your family in any way we can.
 

As I mentioned last week, the USDA recently made resources and assistance available to assist agriculture producers, families and help ensure the stability and safety of food supplies. Information about some of these programs can be found here.

The USDA is still accepting applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) through August 28, 2020 to assist farmers and ranchers who have been adversely affected by price instability, supply-chain problems and cost spikes as a result of the pandemic.  You can learn more about how this program applies to soybeans, dairy, corn, livestock and a variety of other agricultural products here, and a useful fact sheet on the program can be viewed here.

The Small Business Administration also continues to provide assistance to employers negatively affected by the public health emergency through the Paycheck Protection Program, and disaster loan assistance.

Finally, with the US Census underway, remember to make sure that you and your family are counted. Please be sure to visit 2020census.gov to learn more.

Remember to sign up for my newsletter here, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  As always, you are welcome to visit my website or to contact my offices in Washington, D.C. or Wisconsin, which remain open, if you have any questions or need assistance.

Your thoughts and recommendations are always welcome as we work together to get Wisconsin and America back up on her feet again.

Sincerely,

Tom Tiffany
Member of Congress