Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY"I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong." George Washington, May 1788
The United States is a nation of immigrants. Furthermore, we've always welcomed those who chose to come to our shores in search of freedom and opportunity, but today we have a problem. Our entire immigration process is broken and thousands cross our borders illegally, threatening the very safety and security of our nation.
Marine Enforcement Officers respond to an incident at a port.To effectively deal with the immigration concerns in the United States we must, first and foremost, control our borders. Otherwise anything else we might do would simply be ineffective. Today, we've lost control of our borders. I believe the American people will only deal with reform if they are convinced that the borders are secure first.
In some quarters, discussions on illegal immigration have included talk of amnesty for those who entered the country illegally. I feel very strongly that amnesty should not be automatically granted to those who are here illegally. We are a nation of laws and we would send the wrong message if we were to merely give amnesty to those who openly disregard our laws.
CBP agent watches people as they gather next to the Mexican/American border in Imperial Valley CA.Again, we need to make sure that we secure our borders before we look at any other options. Through a combination of physical barriers, such as fencing, updated technology, and more boots on the ground, we can close our borders to illegal entrants.
H.R. 6061, the Secure Fence Act of 2006: I voted in favor of this House measure that takes steps necessary to closing the United States' southern border to illegal immigrants. It passed the House 283 to 138, and will harden our nation's borders to guard against the threat of terrorism and stem the flow of illegal immigration. The President signed it into law on October 26, 2006.
The Secure Fence Act of 2006 will harden our nation's borders to guard against the threat of terrorism and stem the flow of illegal immigration by:
* Providing for over 700 miles of two-layered reinforced fencing along the southwest border with prioritized placement at critical, highly populated areas and requiring an evaluation of infrastructure needs along the northern border;
* Mandating that within 18 months DHS achieve and maintain operational control over the land and maritime borders through a "virtual fence" that deploys cameras, ground sensors, and, integrated surveillance technology;
* Requiring DHS to provide all necessary authority to border personnel to disable fleeing vehicles, similar to the authority held by the United States Coast Guard for maritime vessels.
H.R. 6094, the Community Protection Act of 2006: The Community Protection Act ensures that dangerous illegal immigrants who cannot be deported, cannot likewise be released into society. In addition it also expedites removal of criminal aliens and toughens laws against alien gang members. I supported this legislation and it overwhelmingly passed the House by a vote of 328-95 in the 109th Congress.
Many illegal immigrants being detained by the Department of Homeland Security are unable to be deported for a variety of reasons. Yet under current law, DHS cannot detain these illegal immigrants for more than six months, even if the individual has committed a violent crime or represents a threat to national security. As a result, hundreds of criminals are released back onto our streets. The Community Protection Act of 2006 allows such illegal immigrants to be detained for periods of six months at a time, and then allows for the period of detention to be renewed. It also provides for judicial review.
H.R. 6095, the Immigration Law Enforcement Act of 2006: The Immigration Law Enforcement Act reaffirms the inherent authority of state and local law enforcement to voluntarily investigate, identify, apprehend, arrest, detain, and transfer to federal custody illegal immigrants. It also authorizes an increase in the number of attorneys to prosecute alien smuggling cases, and expresses Congress' sense that the attorney general should establish uniform guidelines for the prosecution of alien smugglers. In addition it helps close loopholes that have hurt the Department of Homeland Security's ability to enforce immigration laws. For example, an injunction dating from the El Salvadoran civil war of the 1980s prevents DHS from placing Salvadorans in expedited removal proceedings, even though the civil war has long since ended. DHS uses expedited removal proceedings to quickly remove illegal immigrants who are apprehended along the Southern border, in order to end the policy of "catch and release," where illegal immigrants have been released into the general population while they await deportation proceedings. It passed the House in 2006 by a vote of 277-140 but failed to be brought up for a vote in the Senate.
H.R. 4830, the Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2006: The Border Tunnel Prevention Act enacts criminal penalties of up to 20 years' imprisonment for individuals who knowingly construct or finance the construction of an unauthorized tunnel across a U.S. international border. In addition, individuals who recklessly permit the construction of such a tunnel on their own property are subject to imprisonment of up to 10 years. Individuals caught using such a tunnel to smuggle aliens, contraband, drugs, weapons, or terrorists are subject to twice the penalty that would have otherwise been imposed. This legislation passed the House by a vote of 422-0 but failed in the Senate.
H.R. 997, English Language Unity Act of 2007: I believe it's important that English is our national language for many reasons. In order to remain a country that is moving in the same direction, we should all have a common language and English has always been that unifying factor for us. That's why I've co-sponsored this important piece of legislation.
This bill declares English as the official language of the United States and takes several other important steps. It requires official functions of the U.S. to be performed in English, a uniform English language rule for U.S. naturalization, and that all naturalization ceremonies shall be conducted in English.
This legislation also requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to issue for public notice and comment a proposed rule for uniform testing of English language ability of candidates for naturalization, based upon the principles that: (1) all citizens should be able to read and understand generally the English language text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the laws of the United States; and (2) any exceptions to this standard should be limited to extraordinary circumstances, such as asylum.