Harris said the majority-Republican House of Representatives would not take up immigration reform in the near future if the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Democratic president continue to push for allowing those who entered the country illegally, but have otherwise been productive residents, to become U.S. citizens.

Immigration reform legislation passed the Senate in June with support from Republican senators, but House Republicans have said they will not support legislation with a path to citizenship provision, which detractors consider amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Harris, who is the son of Eastern European immigrants, said "we welcome immigrants to come here legally and participate in our economy."

He said one aspect of the United States which is attractive around the world is that it is "a nation of laws."


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"Amnesty is a step back from the rule of law," he said. "I don't think that makes us better as a country."

Harris supported increased defense spending in response to a question about why the U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers and China has one.

The congressman said the U.S. should have more and supported cutting spending for agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Education.

"We have to defend the largest trading economy in the world, which is our economy," Harris said.

"There are very few things that are enumerated in the Constitution that are the responsibility of the federal government," he explained. "Defending the country is one of them."

Harris stayed after the town hall ended to speak with members of the audience.

"This is the best-attended town hall meeting I have anywhere in the district," he told the Bel Air crowd. "God bless you all."