REFORM OF OUR BORDER SECURITY AND IMMIGRATION SYSTEM
The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. Legal immigration has blessed our nation with talent, diversity, and a commitment to freedom. However, we are also a nation of laws. Illegal immigration flaunts the law and mocks our system of justice. It costs our taxpayers billions of dollars every year, while taking jobs from law-abiding citizens and legal residents.
As you know, illegal immigration penalizes those legal immigrants and citizens who play by the rules. A recent study found that there are over ten million illegal aliens currently living in the United States. This population grows by over 350,000 each year. Clearly, this situation has reached crisis proportions and cannot be allowed to continue.
I am pleased that the House has passed an immigration bill that provides fundamental reform of our border security and immigration system. Among other things, the bill increases physical security and surveillance at our borders, authorizes 1,000 new border inspectors and 1,500 new K-9 units, requires that all illegal immigrants apprehended by the Border Patrol remain in custody until they are deported, establishes a mandatory employment eligibility verification system, increases penalties for alien smugglers and aliens illegally reentering the U.S. and affirms the authority of state and local law enforcement to detain illegal aliens for immigration violations.
Unfortunately, instead of acting on this comprehensive legislation passed by the House, the Senate passed immigration reform legislation which would in part prohibit local law enforcement from detaining illegal immigrants for civil immigration violations. The Senate passed bill not only fails to secure our borders but also rewards illegal immigrants with amnesty.
While I believe that a limited and temporary guest worker program could meet the needs of some sectors of the American economy, I am opposed to amnesty. Amnesty is not the answer - it undermines the laws of our country and encourages further illegal immigration.
In response to the passage of the Senate immigration reform bill, the House has scheduled more than 30 hearings in 10 committees and subcommittees over the next two months to fully explore the Senate bill and the issue of border security reform. These hearings will be conducted outside of Washington and will give Members of Congress the opportunity to talk to the people who actually deal with the problems of illegal immigration.
Completely closing our borders to immigrants who seek to experience the American dream or who are needed in this country is not the answer. However, we need to aggressively crack down on illegal immigration. Now is the time to do so and to ensure that security within our borders is the highest priority. Rest assured as your Congressman I will remain committed to these principles and the rule of law.