Statement of U.S. Senator Herb Kohl on the Immigration Reform Bill
This bill appreciates the importance of addressing the problem of illegal immigration and border security while at the same time proposing an intelligent solution to the issue of the millions of people here without documentation today.
First and foremost, we need to control our borders and enforce our laws. This bill adds thousands of additional border patrol agents, increases the use of technology and enhances the authority of our immigration enforcement officials to deport criminals and others who may seek to do us harm. This will significantly enhance our ability to catch people before they enter the country, and deport those who do. I could not support a bill that I did not believe could secure our borders.
Border security alone is not sufficient. We must also enforce our laws in our interior. This bill includes a strong employment verification system, so that employers can determine who in this country is eligible to work, and will be punished severely when they employ those who are here illegally.
We must also be realistic about how to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in this country. It is not realistic to deport them all. For those hardworking, law-abiding people who have been here for years and set down roots in our communities, it is reasonable to allow them to earn citizenship over a significant time period. In this bill, they are asked to earn their legalization over the course of eleven or twelve years and demonstrate that they deserve to be an American.
I am glad that we have put the time and effort into crafting a bipartisan solution we can be proud of: one that is both tough and fair.