Op-Ed By Rep. Dent: Senate Immigration Bill Was A Failure From The Start
The U.S. Senate recently defeated S. 1348, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. I glad this bill has failed, but I caution that its supporters will try again. We never considered the bill the House of Representatives, but what I saw of S. 1348, I didn't like.
First, the bill would have allowed nearly every illegal immigrant to apply for probationary status and ultimately to seek long-term admission to this country. This is a form of amnesty, and it is very troubling. We are a nation of laws, and we should promote respect for those laws. Amnesty undermines that respect, and I am opposed to it on that basis alone.
Moreover, as a member of the Homeland Security Committee, I understand that securing our borders is essential in this country. Illegal entry and residence in this country represent a potential threat to the security of the nation. According to the Government Accountability Office, for example, four of the 9/11 hijackers who entered the United States with legal visas overstayed their authorized periods of admission.
This must be addressed. In this Congress, I have introduced legislation that would allow the use of the Civil Air Patrol a non-combat U.S. Air Force auxiliary to assist our border patrols, and also new legislation that will allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection to better monitor who is coming into our country from Canada and Mexico by buses and passenger trains, much the way we do with planes and ships from all over the world.
The House has yet to consider an immigration bill during this Congress, but if it does I hope it will be very different legislation than what the Senate attempted. This is what occurred last year when we debated a border security bill. The Senate's version had an amnesty provision; the House version for which I voted specifically focused on border security, excluded amnesty, and included provisions that made the presence in this country by an illegal alien a federal crime.
We should welcome immigrants who want to become legal residents and citizens. My concern is whether we can further burden a system that is already failing to adequately control the borders and monitor the millions of non-citizens in our country today. Securing our borders is the first step. As Ronald Reagan once said, "A nation without borders is not a nation."
We need to prevent our current population of 12 million illegals from becoming 15, or 18, or even 25 million. Granting amnesty will only push those numbers up, not down.