Senator Blackburn Stresses Importance of Border Security

January 27, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke on the Senate floor to stress the importance of ensuring that all Americans feel safe and secure in the physical space and virtual space they reside in and how border security plays a role in that.

To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.

You can read the transcript recorded in the Congressional Records below or click here.


MRS. BLACKBURN: Mr. President, as we move through what is appearing

to be a choppy start to the 117th Congress, I think it is worth

reminding ourselves of the standards that guide our work here. The

mandate that we have does not come from the 24-hour news cycle or from

lobbyists or advocacy groups, but it comes, very simply, from the

Constitution. It is the foundation of the rule of law, our Nation's

Constitution, and it really serves as a pretty good policymaking


  The American people are looking at what is going on here, and they

see the cracks that Washington has made in the foundation of this

Constitution. These realizations have eroded their confidence in our

ability as a body to perform the basic functions of government without

devolving into partisan chaos when faced with disagreements.

  Many times I will hear Tennesseans say: What happened to robust

political debate? What happened to being able to agreeably disagree and

have a discussion? Are those days totally lost, or can we return to

them? They are asking themselves how many shortcuts--like Executive

orders--Washington is going to take before the shortcut becomes the

rule or the norm and how many times can Washington chip away at the

standards that govern our country before those standards start to

crumble or are not relevant.

  Restoring the trust of the American people will not be easy because

this fundamental lack of faith in our institutions has caused Americans

to question their very safety and security in the physical space and

also in the virtual world that they have been forced into by the COVID-

19 pandemic.

  I like to say we have a lot of security moms who are out there--moms

and grandmoms like me--and, quite frankly, they are out in full force,

alongside millions of other Americans who now have cause to wonder if

their own government will bother making their security a priority. What

about their communities? What about their neighborhoods? What about the

universities where their children go to school? What is going to be

done about riots? What about the virtual space? As they have seen their

children move to online school, more of their daily functional life and

their transactional life has moved online. How do they keep their

families safe? How do they protect their rights to privacy?

  In the physical space, yesterday we got the good news that a Federal

judge has granted a temporary restraining order barring the Department

of Homeland Security from implementing a nationwide pause on most

deportations. That pause was mandated by a DHS memo signed by the

Acting Secretary on day one of the Biden administration--not such a

great start for the administration's immigration policy team, but the

American people will benefit from having the time that has come to them

to ask questions about proposed shifts in existing policy. People want

to be safe.

  I would like to just stipulate for the record that immigration law is

very complex. While most Americans aren't experts in the finer points

of immigration law, they do have and most of us have a very common

touchstone that we relate to; that is, having a secure border.

  This should be a basic concept--let's secure the border; let's secure

our country--but somehow we have managed to politicize that point that

advocates at the highest levels of the Federal Government--for what? A

weakened border. Just imagine that. You have individuals at the highest

level of the Federal Government who are saying: Let's weaken our

border. That is stunning, absolutely stunning to Tennesseans.


  Why would you not protect your border? Why would you not want to know

who is coming into your country? Why should I be forced to accept a lax

border? Why should I be accepting of allowing drug cartels to run those

drugs into the country? Why should I be told I should accept human

trafficking; I should accept gangs; I should accept sex traffickers

coming in across the border?

  When we have a weak border, this is what you get. Every town--every

town--becomes a border town. Every State becomes a border State because

of the impacts--the negative impacts--of drug trafficking, sex

trafficking, human trafficking, and the toll that that takes on our


  Last week, I introduced two key pieces of legislation that attack

specific vulnerabilities in our body of immigration law that thousands

of bad actors use to game the system every year.

  The first is the Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal

Immigrants Act. It does exactly what it sounds like. It blocks certain Federal

funds from reaching the coffers of sanctuary States. This includes

States that defy Federal immigration law or that allow individuals to

obtain a driver license without providing proof that they are here

legally or without providing proof that they are who they claim to be.

This is no small penalty, and here is why.

  In 2020, our Nation had 15 States plus the District of Columbia that

have decided to give illegal immigrants a valid State-issued ID, a

driver license. These 15 States and DC got $53 million in JAG grants

from the Department of Justice. These are funds--these are Justice

Assistance Grants that are given to local law enforcement and criminal

justice projects to do what? Enforce the law. So if you are not going

to enforce the law, why should you get the money? Those funds should go

to entities that have said: We will abide by the rule of law. That is

where those funds should go.

  Now, the second bill is the Ban Birth Tourism Act. This would amend

the Immigration and Nationality Act to prohibit pregnant foreigners

from obtaining a temporary visitor visa they could use to enter the

United States specifically for the purpose of giving birth here. Yes,

you heard me right. There is a loophole in the law, in the Immigration

and Nationality Act. Because of this, we have some pregnant foreigners,

primarily from Russia and China, who circumvent the law, and they get a

temporary visitor visa, and they come here working with some of this

multimillion-dollar-a-year birth tourism industry. They get coached.

They come here. They go to a facility. They give birth. The child

becomes a citizen, and then they return. As I said, primarily these are

wealthy Russians and wealthy Chinese.

  Our citizenship is not for sale. No, indeed. It is hard-fought. It is

hard-won. It is hard-kept. The American people are right to expect

better than this. Tennesseans want to see something done about this.

That is why I, once again, have filed this legislation.

  The American people are not unreasonable. They do not lack

compassion. They just don't understand why officials who are charged

with upholding the law would act in their official capacity to

undermine something as basic as border security, as basic as national


  We have a lot of security moms out there who understand that it is no

small task keeping things secure at home. All of these security moms

out there know that there are plenty of threats online--threats that

they cannot see, but they know that there are a lot of these threats

that come into their homes and onto their computer screens and onto the

devices of their children because of a lack of privacy online.

  How we curate and protect our virtual use, as I call it, is

critically important because it defines who we are to the people who we

do not see in person. And as I mentioned earlier, more of our

functional and transactional life is now online. So tomorrow, to mark

National Data Privacy Day, I will once again reintroduce the BROWSER


  Mr. President, as you and I served in the House together, I know you

remember how I would introduce this bill, the BROWSER Act, to secure

online privacy for millions of Americans. Now, at its heart, this is an

effort to inject awareness, transparency, and accountability into the

relationship between technology platforms and their users.

  This legislation sets up a very basic Federal compliance framework

that tech companies can use as a guide to update their privacy policies

online, make it something that is going to give you the ability to say:

This is information that I want to share.

  It would require companies to secure an opt-in from consumers before

collecting their sensitive data. And for less sensitive information,

you, the consumer, would have the ability to opt out and not share that

browsing history with that company.

  Companies would not be able to deny you service if you want to

practice your right to privacy. That makes common sense. It happens in

the physical space every single day, and it should also be a right

reserved to the individual in the virtual space.

  This also would put the Federal Trade Commission, our online privacy

regulator, in charge of watching what is happening in the virtual

space, applying these rules equally across the entire internet

ecosystem. A right to privacy, being secure in our communities and our

homes, is something that not only Tennesseans but millions of Americans

are wanting to see.