After the 9/11 attacks it has become clear to all of us that we have to do more to increase our border and ports-of-entry security. The Bush Administration and a Rubber-stamp Republican Congress largely ignored this issue for years and only recently became interested in doing something. Until this year the Bush Administration cut back on enforcement efforts and the Republican Congress has even failed to fund programs necessary to screen cargo containers and other entry points into our country.
Something must change. The first thing we must do is increase our border security efforts with additional guards and technology and where it makes sense construct physical boundaries. We must do a better job of enforcing sanctions against employers who violate the law and, in many cases, endanger their employees with unsafe conditions. By limiting the supply and drying up the demand, basic economics will reduce the flow of illegal immigrants and we will have a better command of who is coming and going from the U.S. I support H.R. 98 authored by Representatives Dreier (R-CA) and Reyes (D-TX) that will prevent social security identification fraud and crack down on employers who willfully hire illegal workers. We must use our criminal justice system to crack down on the organized crime element that forge documents and traffic and exploit people without proper documentation. This too will reduce illegal immigration.
Next, for those that are paying taxes, learning English and not committing crimes we should allow them an earned path to eventual legal status and potential citizenship. Critics of this approach call it Amnesty' but I am not in favor of a blanket amnesty. I believe strongly that the English language is what binds our Country, it is how we communicate and do business and it should be the official language of the U.S. We must give people the opportunity to learn English so we can continue to prosper as a nation.
The reality is there are 8-12 million people in the U.S. without proper documents, many of whom are providing services and paying taxes. In some cases families are here with children who are U.S. born citizens, and in other cases people have immigrated legally but have overstayed their visas and work permits. We must find a fair process for identifying these people and resolving their immigration statusthis must be a part of a comprehensive immigration reform package.
My grandparents emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900's from Eastern Europe. They worked hard, paid taxes and learned English (although even in their 80's their English wasn't great the point is they knew the importance of learning the language). My grandfather built the foundation of success that has helped my family prosper.
Times have changed and we must remember how our nation came to be so great, at the same time we must be vigilant at protecting our homeland, securing our borders, cracking down on employers who ignore the law, using our criminal justice system to crack down on forgers and traffickers and create a path to earned citizenship which includes learning English.