TAKING BACK OUR BORDERS
December 23, 2005
Controlling our nation's borders is essential to our national security. Last week, the House passed the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 to deter illegal entry into the U.S. and enhance border patrol operations. Illegal immigration compromises our nation's security and integrity. Additionally, illegal immigration penalizes those legal immigrants and citizens who play by the rules.
A recent study found that there are as many as 11 million illegal aliens currently living in the United States. Often illegal aliens caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally are released due to limited detention space, giving them multiple chances to cross into the country illegally. This year alone, some 115,000 illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico were apprehended and released. This "catch and release" practice compromises our national security. The Border Control Act eliminates this practice by requiring mandatory detention for all illegal immigrants caught in the act and requires that they remain in custody until removed from the country.
Many illegal aliens, however, do not come to our country by illegally crossing our borders. Studies have shown that between forty and fifty percent of the illegal aliens in the U.S. came on legal temporary visas but never returned home. Current law prohibits knowingly hiring or employing illegal aliens. Yet, there are as many as 8 million illegal workers employed in the U.S. and the number continues to grow. This bill would institute an employment eligibility verification system to weed out fraudulent social security numbers and assure employers that their employees are not working in the U.S. illegally.
This bill also contains several provisions to help prevent dangerous criminals from entering our country illegally including cracking down on alien gang members by rendering them inadmissible and deportable, increasing the penalties for aliens who re-enter the country illegally and increasing the penalties for alien smuggling.
In addition, I offered an amendment to eliminate the visa lottery program. Each year, 50,000 foreign nationals are chosen completely at random to enter the country. According to the State Department, the program "contains significant risks to national security from hostile intelligence officers, criminals, and terrorists attempting to use the program for entry into the United States as permanent residents." The visa lottery is flawed policy and should not be permitted to jeopardize our nation's security any longer. Fortunately, the House of Representatives agrees and adopted my amendment as part of the Border Control Act.
Legal immigration has blessed our nation with talent, diversity, and a commitment to freedom and the rule of law. But illegal immigration costs our taxpayers billions of dollars every year and jeopardizes our national security. Passing the Border Control Act is the first crucial step in taking back our borders.