Turner Against Current Senate Immigration Legislation Says: "Amnesty Sends Wrong Message"
By Congressman Michael Turner
The U.S. Senate continues to debate comprehensive immigration reform (S. 1348). At this time there is no planned companion bill scheduled for a vote by the entire U.S. House of Representatives. However, as my office has received an extraordinarily high number of calls and letters regarding this issue, I thought a column restating my position on immigration in general, and my opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants, would be helpful.
I have three guiding principles with respect to immigration reform. They are:
1. Controlling and strengthening America's borders.
2. Respecting the rule of law
3. Keeping our citizens safe
The current Senate immigration bill violates these guiding principles. Therefore, I would vote against the Senate plan, if it were to come before the House, in its current form.
I strongly support the rights of those who have immigrated to this country legally and who abide by the rule of law while in this country. Our nation was built on controlled, legal immigration and the contributions of peoples from all over the world who have made this country the great melting pot.
However, I do not support amnesty for those who have come here illegally. Rewarding those who have broken our immigration laws and entered the country illegally sends the wrong message to the millions of immigrants who have come to our nation legally. It also sends the wrong message to those who are considering how they will make their way to the United States in the future.
Controlling our borders is now a matter of national security and economic security. I have supported several bills that are designed to strengthen control of our border, reduce illegal immigration and keep our country safer, including:
The REAL ID Act, which I co-sponsored and voted for in the 109th Congress. The REAL ID Act made important, common-sense, reforms recommended by the 9/11 Commission, regarding the use of state-issued driver's licenses and personal identification cards.
As the 9/11 Commission reported, most of the terrorists who attacked our nation on September 11, 2001 possessed valid driver's licenses and state-issued identification cards. Most entered the country legally on temporary visas, with entry permits for six months. Four of the terrorists had been in the United States for extended periods, although none was a legal, permanent resident. Several had fallen out of legal status and were, therefore, in the United States illegally, although the drivers licenses they had been issued had not expired. The uniform standards mandated by the REAL ID Act will close this loophole, making it harder for terrorists to obtain a driver's license. The REAL ID Act requires that applicants prove that they are in this country legally.
I also voted to authorize the construction of a 700-mile fence to secure the United States' Southwestern border. This includes state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, infrared cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles.
I voted to fund and deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to the border, and add 1,200 new border patrol agents.
I am a co-sponsor of a bill that increased authority for local law enforcement officials to arrest and detain criminal aliens, and funding for costs associated with transporting and detaining criminal aliens.
Until our borders are secure, Congress should not move forward with additional immigration laws. This includes waiting before Congress considers any temporary worker programs. I look forward to working with my House colleagues on meaningful immigration policies to help secure our borders, protect the rule of law and legal immigration but provide no amnesty for those who have entered the United States illegally.