Immigration Reform Needs to be Part of a Comprehensive Homeland Security Strategy
One of the most important functions of any government is to take all necessary steps to protect its citizens. Whether it is through increased security at airports or train stations, or bolstering border controls, protecting the homeland needs to be priority Number 1 for Congress. Immigration reform is a key component of that mission.
The marquee responsibility of any government with respect to homeland security is protection of borders and ports of entry. The U.S. has more than 361 seaports and 95,000 miles of coastline. There are almost 430 commercial airports and hundreds of thousands of highway and railroad miles in this country. We share a 5,252 mile border with Canada and a nearly 2,000 mile border with Mexico. Add all those factors together and it is easy to see that homeland security is a daunting task in the U.S.
In the post-9/11 world, protecting our borders has taken on an entirely new level of importance. On an average day, more than a million people cross our borders, be it by car, plane or sea. That means border security equals homeland security. Part of Congress' homeland security obligation in a post-9/11 world is preventing another terrorist attack. That is why we must value the rule of law and protect our borders. Amnesty or any immigration policy that essentially rewards those that have entered our country illegally is a foolhardy solution to an imminent problem.
America has a deep-rooted tradition in welcoming legal immigrants and under no circumstances should citizenship be the reward for violating U.S. law. I oppose amnesty and have worked to make sure the problem of illegal immigration is solved. My record shows that I have helped to increase funding for border security and backed the Real ID Act, which makes the standards for getting government identification more stringent. I support a fair legal immigration policy and increased funding for securing our homeland. Earlier this year, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, of which I am a member, approved almost $31 billion in funds for the Department of Homeland Security in Fiscal Year 2006. I intend to see these funds spent in a judicious fashion that truly benefits the taxpayers and increases the security of our homeland.
Real immigration reform is a concept whose time has come. Rewarding illegal immigrants for breaking laws is not the solution. A pragmatic approach that secures our borders and stems the tide of lawbreaking immigrants is the best answer.