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-
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.