Gun control, health care and immigration are among Bradley Byrne’s top concerns for the U.S. and especially his home in the “Heart of Dixie.”
Byrne, the current U.S. Representative for Alabama’s first congressional district, recently stopped by Albertville to give the city’s Rotary Club a ‘not-so-typical’ update on things happening in Washington, D.C., and share his opinion on a variety of issues.
The most prominent issue Byrne addressed was immigration and the nation’s border security. He shared details of his recent trip to the U.S. border in El Paso, Texas, where he spent an entire day with the border patrol, a number of military officials and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. He toured the facilities where immigrants are detained after illegally crossing the border.
“Just about everything you’ve been told on television that happens on the border is not true,” he said. “We’ve got border patrol agents that are consummate professionals who have one job, and one job only, and that is to apprehend people who come across the border illegally. They are not mistreating people … The people are kept comfortable and given proper health care … They’re being taken care of by our country.
“The vast majority of those people coming across our line want to gain asylum so they can be let loose in this country, and we never see them again,” Byrne added. “Ninety percent of them are not qualified for asylum. You can’t get asylum here because you’re poor or come from a poor country. You have to show that you have a reasonable expectation of persecution in your own country.”
Byrne also talked about the idea of constructing walls at the border to help security.
“Ladies and gentlemen, walls work,” Byrne said. “I saw the wall; I saw why it works … The wall I saw had a Mexican town on one side and a U.S. town on the other. Border patrol agents said before they put up that wall, the no man’s land between the towns was extremely violent. Because the people that traffic humans also traffic drugs, and anybody in law enforcement that has ever dealt with that will tell you, where you find that you’ll find guns and you’ll find a lot of violence. That ended when we built the wall … We need to build a wall everywhere that’s possible … We also need more personnel down there and get them the equipment they need.”
Since the last election, when Democrats took majority within the House of Representatives, Byrne said there’s been a change to the way things are done at the nation’s capitol.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that what’s really going on here is a fundamental difference of values, and it plays itself out in policies and bills,” Byrne said.
The 64-year-old first talked about an “equality” bill that had only passed the House.
“Equality; sounds great, right?” Byrne said. “Except in that bill they attempted to repeal your and my rights to freely exercise our faith.”
Byrne also said most Democrats were lobbying to take away citizens’ right to own guns.
“That’s because they don’t think of the constitution as something that limits what governments can do,” Byrne said. “They think they can do whatever they want to.
“Not a single one of the proposals I’ve heard since those shootings a couple weeks ago would have done anything to have prevented those shootings,” he added. “It doesn’t get to the heart of the problem. We’ve always had guns in America. When I was a kid in high school, we used to keep our shotguns in the back of our pickup trucks – locked up – but we never thought for one second to bring them inside the school or for shooting down innocent people. That wasn’t why we had them. What’s going on in our society that young men think it’s OK to do that?”
Byrne said it’s a matter of “good versus evil.”
Health care was also a topic of interest for Byrne; he said the plan to provide “Medicare for all” was impossible.
“We’re going to run out of Medicare money for people who are 65 or older, who have been paying into that program for their entire working life, in a few years,” Byrne said. “We better be thinking about how we’re going to make sure we can keep Medicare going for all those people who’ve been paying into the program all these years, rather than dumping everybody else in America on it and taking an already difficult problem and making it impossible. Bernie Sanders, who is running for president, has already said [‘Medicare for all’] will cost $40 trillion.”
When he goes to Washington, D.C., Byrne said representing the people of Alabama is about more than casting a vote.
“I tell people all the time, when I go to Washington, I‘m not just going there voting,” Byrne said. “We’re contending for those fundamental values … it’s a fight; it’s a real fight – I get that – but it’s a fight that we’re going to fight and a fight we’re going to win.”
Byrne is one of six Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate in 2020. Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat who defeated Republican candidate Roy Moore in a special election held in December of 2017, currently holds the seat.
“I was very disturbed by what happened in 2017,” Byrne said. “It’s not just that I disagree with the outcome, but I thought Alabama came out of it looking bad. That hurt my feelings, just to be honest with you. I don’t think Doug Jones represents our positions – Alabama’s position – on all these important policy issues. It’s not that I don’t like him. It’s not that I think he’s a bad guy. But he’s for abortion. He’s for gun control. He voted against [Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh]. He’s against building a wall at the border … I think people of Alabama should have somebody representing them that shares our positions – our values, like I was just talking about.”
The general election for the U.S. Senate seat is scheduled for Nov. 3, 2020. The primary election is scheduled for March 3, 2020.
Republican candidates currently include Byrne, Stanley Adair, current Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, Arnold Mooney, Roy Moore and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville.
Jones is currently seeking re-election unopposed as a Democrat.