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Immigration policy on topic at Fortenberry town hall

July 31, 2018

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry held a town hall meeting in the Fremont City Council Chambers on Monday, during which he answered questions from area constituents on a variety of topics.

Questions from the crowd of around 50 people centered on topics including the protection of the Second Amendment, potential privatization of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, tariffs imposed by President Trump, and immigration and border security.

One question asked of Fortenberry from a constituent in the crowd was whether or not he supported privatizing the VA.

“One of the many things that I voted for Trump with was the veterans, and one of the things that he wants to do is privatize the VA,” the participant asked. “I hope that happens, is that something he can do on his own or will he have to go through you and the Senate to do it?”

Fortenberry responded by saying “he’d have to come through us,” before discussing the implementation of the Veterans Choice Program and moving toward what he described as a more hybrid model.

“What has happened over time is we have implemented a choice program, so if a veteran is having to wait too long and meets other criteria, they can actually go to the clinic of their choice and get more immediate help,” he said. “Really the goal is the best possible care for the veteran as quickly as possible, not either private or public.”

Fortenberry also fielded several questions regarding immigration and border security, when he was again asked if he aligned with President Trump on the issue.

One participant asked for Fortenberry’s thoughts about the direction the president is moving in regards to immigration reform, as well as his vote to approve the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act.

“There’s four principles here at work that really ought to be worked on all together or aggressively all the time,” Fortenberry responded. “The first is border security, you cannot have charity flowing out of chaos… there’s also interior enforcement, humanitarian exceptions, and the fourth one that nobody talks about is foreign policy.”

In regards to his position that foreign policy should be a lens through which to address immigration and border security, Fortenberry pointed to his work on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee.

“The issue of the border shouldn’t be on the one yard line, we should move it upstream,” he said. “We worked very aggressively… with the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to help them create the conditions where there is rule of law, proper economic opportunity, and governance space helping get rid of corruption, so that the pull for economic migration and other reasons ceases.”

In what was the final question of the town hall meeting, Fortenberry was again asked for a more direct answer to the immigration and border security issue.

“Are you in favor of building the wall?” a participant asked.

“I’m in favor of enhanced border security, and some of that is going to be added wall, yes,” Fortenberry responded.

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