Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties) today said he was disappointed in President Bush's continued call to provide amnesty for illegal immigrants.
"I have great respect for President Bush and agree with him on the overwhelming number of issues. I have met with him personally twice and several times with his staff to discuss the meaning of amnesty. I use the Merriam-Webster definition. If you forgive and reward someone for their illegal acts, you are providing amnesty," Gallegly said after the President addressed the nation.
"Amnesty is not something I have supported in the past, I don't support it now, and I won't support it in the future.
"I am also disappointed that the President's enforcement plan does not include interior enforcement. Right now, if you're caught at the border you get sent home. But if you make it past the border, you're home free. That's like having our police officers ignore a crime because the officer did not personally see it happen.
"The 1986 amnesty legalized 3 million immigrants. Twenty years later, we have 12 million or more illegal immigrants. Clearly, if you reward people for breaking the law, it encourages others to do the same.
"The 1986 law also included provisions to crack down on illegal immigration. Successive administrations have chosen to ignore the laws Congress passed then and in the years sinceincluding many provisions I authored. Now we must prove we are serious about enforcing our laws. Otherwise, we simply provide more incentives for people to break the law.
"A 1994 study conducted by the Urban Institute stated that California's illegal immigrant population is costing the state's taxpayers more than $10.5 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. Terrorists can easily blend in with those looking for work, making this a national security issue, as well.
"The House of Representatives passed an immigration reform bill that focuses on enforcing our laws. That is the first step toward comprehensive immigration reform and the one that must be taken."