Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, isn’t from a southern border state, but he says illegal immigration still adversely affects the Gem State.

“I mean, drug and sex trafficking impacts everyone,” Fulcher says.

“And we’re feeling the effects of that,” he adds. “Our citizens, our taxpayers as well. We have to pay for services through federal taxes that are being expended here. We have a very large dairy and egg industry. The dairy industry in particular has relied upon immigrants for a lot of the labor, and that’s not always been legal.”

Fulcher joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss those issues.

Plus, he weighs in on vaccine passports and his perspective of the Biden administration four months in.

We also cover these stories:

  • Democrats propose to increase the size of the Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices.
  • President Joe Biden puts new sanctions on Russia for election interference and cyberattacks. 
  • Is there a disparity in criminal charges against rioters at the Capitol and rioters in Portland, Oregon? Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., asks FBI Director Christopher Wray during an intelligence committee hearing. 

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Rachel del Guidice: I’m joined today on “The Daily Signal Podcast” by Congressman Russ Fulcher of Idaho. Congressman Fulcher, it’s so great to have you on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”

Rep. Russ Fulcher: Well, wonderful. Thank you for having me on today.

Del Guidice: Well, it’s great to have you with us. You recently had an amendment that Democrats blocked, but this amendment would have stopped taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal immigrants. So, Congressman Fulcher, can you tell us about your amendment and what it would have done had Democrats not blocked it?

Fulcher: Sure. Well, I have this a belief that you should be following a law if you’re going to take advantage of some of the things that this country has to offer. And one of those things has to be insurance coverage and the coverages the U.S. government provides … typically for taxpayers.

And that’s basically what I was doing as I was taking issue with the fact that immigrants are getting some of these benefits by, in effect, as a result of breaking the law. And I just don’t think that is … right.

But in order to understand the entire picture, you have to understand what the Democrat motive is.

They want the open borders. They want people coming in, that they’re receiving government benefits, that are getting addicted to those government benefits, that they’re becoming dependent on those government benefits, because they are more likely over time to support the Democrats, put that in place.

That’s how they’re growing their party. That’s how they’re trying to get control in at a substantial margin over the course of time. And that’s at the root of this very problem.

Del Guidice: Speaking of this problem, we’ve just seen the situation at the border escalate and become more and more of a crisis. And so I wanted to hear from you just your perspective on what’s happening there right now.

Fulcher: It’s bad and it’s getting worse, and you have the combination of problems. You’ve got this crush of people trying to get in, and they’re truly trying to better their employment, better their lives.

This president, as a candidate, advertised that he was going to open things up. He wasn’t going to be deporting people. They believed it, they heard it, they took him up on it. And so here they come, and the ramifications have been horrific.

The cartels—who actually control the border—have now engaged with trafficking people, not just sex and drugs, the way they typically have. And so by default, they are controlling our border because our border officials are busy trying to accommodate the number of people that are showing up, the unaccompanied minors.

It’s a terrible situation. The profits are going to cartels. The losers in this particular case are the people that are coming in as immigrants, and the conditions that they’re under, and the American taxpayer who’s footing the bill for this. And the presidency, the administration is woefully not doing anything about it. They’re allowing this to happen.

This is a crisis on your monumental level. I believe it’s over 100,000 per month at this point, the engagements that we’ve got, the apprehensions that we have on that southern border. … That doesn’t even begin to address some of the homeland security concerns that are coming at people.

But they’re not coming from Guatemala, or Mexico, or Honduras, or coming from Middle Eastern nations that we are finding, or China. So when you open up your borders, you relinquish your control as a nation, and we’re putting our citizens in horrific harm’s way.

Del Guidice: Even though Idaho is not a border state, I wanted to hear from you, does illegal immigration impact Idaho?

Fulcher: Oh, no question. I mean, drug and sex trafficking impacts everyone. And we’re feeling the effects of that. Our citizens, our taxpayers as well.

We have to pay for services through federal taxes that are being expended here. We have a very large dairy and egg industry. The dairy industry in particular has relied upon immigrants for a lot of the labor, and that’s not always been legal.

So we see the impacts of that and the ramifications of in-person teaching to the illegal students, which is mandated by our state and by federal laws.

And so it has a very significant impact on us. We haven’t had the gang activity that some states have had, but nevertheless, there is some. And that’s only going to grow as that population continues.

And Rachel, we just have to also keep in mind, orderly immigration, legal immigration is good for everyone, including the immigrants. We immigrate in this nation on a legal basis over the course of a year more than every other nation in the world combined.

So it’s not like we’re not open to immigration, but what I’m saying is that it has to be orderly. We have to enforce the law. … It’s just unfathomable to me that this administration is not living up to the legal responsibilities that it has.

Del Guidice: … For legal immigration, are there any sort of fixes or reforms you see that could be potentially used down the road to begin to address the crisis we have when it comes to having people come in legally versus illegally?

Fulcher: As long as there [are] quality work conditions in the U.S. and not so much in the rest of the world, we’re going to see this pressure. As long as there are entities in the world that don’t like America—and that will be forever—we’re going to see problems in this area. However, we can control it. We can enforce the law, we can do things that will make it better.

And I don’t want to just make unwarranted parallels, but the previous president really did take some steps.

He took some steps to put a border wall in place. He took some steps to empower the law enforcement down there and [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and Border Patrol, and give them resources they need, and enforced the law, and did things with the governments of neighboring nations and other nations that made it clear: We’re not just going to be this … line where just anyone can come through for any reason.

And those are simplistic things. They’re not necessarily easy to do, but it was working, comparatively speaking.

If you take a look at the number of encounters, I got some data yesterday, there [were] 34,000 encounters in March of ’20. There’s … more than 172,000 in March of ’21. So we can see what the difference of policy enforcement or lack thereof does. Simply enforcing the law … was a major step in the positive direction.

Del Guidice: Moving on from the border for a minute, something else you’ve recently been working on is you let a group of 26 House members to send a letter to President [Joe] Biden regarding this potential vaccine passport program that’s been discussed. Can you tell us about the letter and what it said?

Fulcher: Well, first and foremost, up until very recently, the president has not been meeting with members of Congress, and has not been willing to meet with me. And up until very recently, apparently not even with the leadership of our party. So that was the genesis of writing a letter.

I would much rather have had the conversation in person, but nevertheless, initiated a letter, has to do with vaccine passports. This whole notion of an individual citizen, American having to prove that they received the vaccine for certain privileges is something that I take great offense to.

What also that could lead to, for example, how that information gets tracked, how that information is owned and transferred.

There has been published reports of the administration having contacts with technology companies about creating apps for the tracking of people with vaccines and their records. It begs the question, is it compliant with HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability [and] Accountability Act?

And if there’s a bad activity going on, do these tech companies now own that data? If they transfer it, what happens to it? Where does that data reside? There’s personal privacy concerns, which I have great concerns about as well.

And here, we’re talking about the U.S. government potentially restricting the movement, restricting the personnel within our own nation over this. And I think it’s just simply wrong. You’ve got legitimate concerns.

People who want to opt out of that vaccine, how do they be affected by that? Some are concerned about pregnant women taking the vaccine. How will they be affected by that?

So my letter was to the president and it was urging him not to go down this path. There were 25 to 30 other members who signed onto that particular letter. And a number of states, including Idaho, [have] followed on that too and said that they’re not going to enforce such a mandate if it comes through.

Del Guidice: Have you received any sort of response yet from the administration or people, officials that may have received it? Have you seen any sort of discussion or response, or nothing?

Fulcher: No response from the administration. I did get a response from a few state legislators, and this was something that they felt was a good idea that their state was going to follow up on that.

Had some discussion from other members who are concerned similarly with how Big Tech, if you will, those who are currently censoring people and discriminating, how they may play a role in all this and the fact that they opposed that. But nothing that has come directly from the administration.

Del Guidice: Something else that you’ve talked a little bit about on Twitter is this new study that estimates that the tax increases in President Biden’s infrastructure proposal will cost about 1,000,000 jobs. Can you talk a little bit about what’s going on here and just that potential number, that cost of 1,000,000 jobs?

Fulcher: Yeah. For 24 years, before being in Congress or in the state Legislature, I was in the technology world. I was in the worldwide technology business, had a lot of employees over the course of that time. And I learned that people perform better when they are allowed to keep more of what they earn.

In other words, if they’re performing, they’re going to produce more. If they can keep more of what they earn, they’re going to invest more. They’re going to spend more and that’s going to have positive ramifications throughout the economy.

So when the president starts talking about raising taxes on people, whether they’re making more than the average or not, then in my view, what’s happening is you’re penalizing that performance. And that’s what he’s doing. And it’s going to have a very negative impact.

So people who have businesses, people that are employing, are going to be much more obliged to send that work offshore. … They’re going to send that work overseas. And that’s exactly what we don’t want. We want to encourage that to be taking place within the U.S. And so I have very significant concerns.

Ironically, when the president is saying this tax increase is going to translate to a much better infrastructure, that much I agree with him on. The problem is it’s not the U.S. infrastructure. It’s going to be China’s infrastructure, it’s going to be India’s infrastructure, because our jobs are going there. He’s taking exactly the wrong approach.

Del Guidice: Well, lastly, you’ve commented on some of these things already, but … what is your perspective of the Biden administration so far? We’re about four months in, give or take a little bit, and I guess, what’s your opinion on what we’ve seen happen since President Biden has come into office?

Fulcher: … Like a lot of people, I don’t know for sure who is really behind some of the decisions. There’s questions that I have about whether or not he’s making some of these decisions or not. But if you’re conservative, if you are a free market, a capitalist, if you are someone who believes in individual liberty and independence, this is not the administration for you.

And it’s my hope that we can portray to as many Americans as possible that this is not the path that a republic goes down. I’m not talking about democracy. We are not a democracy. We’re a republic. This is not the governance and [these are] not the policies of a republic. … You cannot maintain a republic with these policies.

We’re spending ourselves to oblivion. We’re sending invoices to our grandkids with these major bills and we’re going the wrong direction.

So it’s my hope that we can message that, we can show what’s going on to the American people. And in 20 months, we can overturn the leadership, at least in the U.S. House, to stop some of this and to start pointing ourselves back toward that free market, capitalistic society that has created more wealth than any other nation in the history of the world combined. So that’s my hope.

Del Guidice: Congressman Fulcher, thank you so much for joining us on “The Daily Signal Podcast.” It’s been great having you with us.

Fulcher: Rachel, thank you so much.