Congress Must Address Immigration and Border Security
MARCH 31, 2006
There has been a lot of talk on the news and within communities across the Country on the issue of immigration and border security. The Senate is taking up a border security bill this week and my offices have received many calls with regard to the immigration situation in this Country. I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts on the issue as well as information on H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act, which the House of Representatives passed in December 2005.
It is important to do something about people who enter this Nation illegally. Our Nation has not been tough enough on illegal immigration, and we do not really know exactly how big the problem is. Most official estimates are in the neighborhood or 11 or 12 million here illegally now. However, many people who have studied this issue believe the number really is closer to 20 or 30 million.
Almost everyone agrees that there is a problem in this Country with illegal immigration, and I am amazed that some people think that rewarding that behavior with amnesty would cause less of a problem.
In Thursday's Washington Times, syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell said, "People who get caught illegally crossing the border into the United States pay no penalty whatever. They are sent back home and can try again. What if bank robbers who were caught were simply told to give the money back and not do it again?"
I do not think we should implement another amnesty because it hurts those who play by the rules and every hard working American whose income will continue to be depressed by the large numbers of unskilled laborers in the workplace. The one thing we can all agree on is that it is past time to do something about the Nation's immigration crisis.
More needs to be done to ensure employers do not hire illegal aliens as a means of cheap labor. I do not believe the Country needs a guest worker program. There are plenty of people in the Country legally who could perform many of the jobs currently given to illegal aliens.
Last week in his Washington Post article on guest workers, Robert Samuelson included the following, "It's a myth that the U.S. economy "needs" more poor immigrants. The illegal immigrants already here represent only about 4.9 percent of the labor force, the Pew Hispanic Center reports. In no major occupation are they a majority. They're 36 percent of insulation workers, 28 percent of drywall installers and 20 percent of cooks. They're drawn here by wage differences, not labor "shortages." In 2004, the median hourly wage in Mexico was $1.86, compared with $9 for Mexicans working in the United States, said Rakesh Kochhar of Pew. With high labor turnover in the jobs they take, most new illegal immigrants can get work by accepting wages slightly below prevailing levels."
I have great compassion for people in other countries who want to come to the United States. I understand their desire to come here and appreciate their work ethic.
We cannot however simply open our borders. Our government has estimated that half the people in this world would probably try to get here as soon as possible if we did this. Our schools, roads, hospitals, jails, and general infrastructure could not handle such a rapid, massive influx of people.
As I mentioned earlier, the House has already acted on a border security bill. Although I believe we could have gone further, this bill is a step in the right direction. Here are some of the reforms:
* Calls for mandatory verification of employees' legal status
* Increases penalties for alien smuggling
* Authorizes limited immigration cooperation between local and federal law enforcement
* Prevents frivolous lawsuits by illegal aliens
* Adds 700 miles of fencing along the Southwest border
The Immigration Reform Caucus, of which I am a member, was established to review current immigration policy, to initiate new immigration policy and to create a much-needed forum in Congress to address both the positive and negative consequences of immigration. On their most recent scorecard, Americans for Better Immigration (ABI) gave me an A and the U.S. Border Control gave me a rating of 100% for my work on immigration reform.
I look forward to working with my colleagues to control immigration and secure our borders. We must put aside political rhetoric and work hard to strengthen our Nation's immigration laws and most importantly, ensure that they are enforced.
Those who do not really want a tough immigration law are using the same arguments today that were made in favor of the Simpson-Mazzoli bill of 1986, the last major immigration reform in the U.S.
That bill allowed millions of illegal immigrants to remain here and led to great increases in immigration as more immigrants brought family members here.
It is very sad to see those who are opposed to a tougher bill carrying Mexican flags and showing more loyalty to another country than our own.
Rush Limbaugh said recently if you do not have borders, you do not have a country.
We must have immigration laws and they must be enforced or this nation will slowly but surely take on many of the characteristics of a third world country.