Rehberg Opposes Bush-Kennedy Immigration Legislation
Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, released the following statement today regarding immigration legislation, introduced in the Senate by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) and backed by President Bush, which would give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants:
"This week, legislation was introduced in the Senate that purportedly would implement comprehensive immigration reform. After a closer look, it's apparent the only thing comprehensive about this legislation is its complete failure to secure our borders.
Over the last year, Congress has continually promised the American people that it would stop the flood of illegal immigrants crossing our nation's borders, and make the millions who are already living and working illegally in the U.S. face the consequences of their actions. However, many of the new laws have yet to be fully implemented and the proposals being discussed in the Senate amount to nothing more than a slap on the wrist for these lawbreakers.
Additionally, the legislation's so-called triggers' for implementation are nothing more than a rehashing of existing policies that have already been put in place. They provide no new border security, and in fact, weaken existing security measures.
Overall, the bill also fails to hold employers of illegal immigrants accountable, doesn't strengthen immigrant background checks, and does nothing to prevent the production and sale of fraudulent visas and other identification to illegal workers.
This legislation is just bad policy. Montanans, and Americans, have said they want real enforcement and they want immigrants entering our county to enter legally, without cutting corners. An immigrant's first act in America shouldn't be an illegal one. I oppose this legislation and I'll work to find a sensible solution here in the House."
A few points on why the Bush-Kennedy immigration legislation is bad for America and bad for Montana:
· The Senate bill allows immediate amnesty for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States.
· The bill includes triggers' that are designed to ensure border security measures are implemented before illegal immigrants, currently residing in the U.S., are allowed to begin the process of attaining legal status. However, these triggers' don't affect probationary' status, which is a temporary renewable status that occurs between the acts of applying for a visa and actually receiving a visa. So, these triggers' are basically meaningless because the bill allows an illegal immigrant to essentially remain in probationary' status forever.
· These triggers' are also meaningless since most of the triggers are either already in place or already authorized by current law. One example is the Senate bill's requirement of 370 miles of border fence. This is a reduction from the 700 miles of fence passed last year in the "Secure Fence Act." Another example is a requirement for 18,000 border patrol agents. Through requirements passed in the "Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004," we are already on pace to surpass that number in the next two years alone.
· The bill rewards people for breaking the law. Those who entered illegally immediately get a legal work permit, entitling them to a job, which is the very reason they broke the law in the first place. Only after the triggers are met do they incur any penalty, and then it is only a $1000 fine.
The bill fails to address national security concerns. Illegal immigrants who receive "probationary" status must consent to a background check, but that check must be finished in one day. If it is not finished, DHS must give the illegal immigrant probationary status anyway.