Issue Position: Immigration
I have supported legislation to curb illegal immigration by increasing criminal penalties for immigrant smuggling and document fraud, eliminating the use of government documents that are easily forged, and doubling the number of border patrol guards. Better enforcement and tougher penalties for both undocumented immigrants and their lawbreaking employers are the way to fight unauthorized employment, and employment opportunities are what drive illegal immigration.
However, until we fix the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and enforce our own labor laws, we will continue to debate how high the fence should be and how many agents should guard our border - with no real solution in sight.
In 1994, the U.S. signed NAFTA, which promised, among other things, to help create a thriving middle class in Mexico. At that time there were 3 million undocumented workers in the U.S.; today there are more than 11 million. 9 million more Mexicans live in poverty than when NAFTA was enacted. NAFTA has failed the U.S. and Mexico. By creating an atmosphere where Mexican citizens feel they have no chance of a successful life in Mexico, these ill-conceived trade agreements increase the number of illegal immigrants coming into our country.
In addition to addressing the forces that are compelling illegal immigration, we must take action to bring illegal immigrants out of the shadows. While I do not support amnesty and have serious concerns about guest worker programs, I do believe our nation should consider establishing a process by which illegal immigrants can eventually earn citizenship. The solution to our immigration problem will not be a simple one, as many things in our country need to be fixed to stop illegal immigration. It is time to take a common sense approach to immigration reform.