Without a doubt, the issue I hear most about from my constituents is illegal immigration. People do not understand how this situation was allowed to get so out of hand by the national government and why more was not done sooner to address the problem.
I believe that people have a right to be upset about the slow response of the government and to expect that the president and Congress will now get deadly serious about stopping further illegal immigration and finding humane ways to make it clear to those already in this country illegally that they need to go back to their own countries if they want to apply for U.S. citizenship. There should be no amnesty or special treatment for those who broke our laws.
To help curtail the flow of additional illegal immigrants, I support the construction of various kinds of walls, fences and electronic barriers on our borders. But I also believe that the one single thing that can be done to reduce the number of people here illegally (now and potentially) is to cut off the source of jobs. Most of the people who come here illegally do so because the economic conditions are far superior to those they face in their own countries.
In 1996, I authored legislation that created the "Basic Pilot Program," the only employment verification system available nationwide for employers to electronically check the legal status of jobseekers to work in the United States. I have recently introduced legislation (HR 19) that would make employment verification mandatory across the nation. If the word gets out that only citizens and people here legally will be able to find jobs, the problem of illegal immigration will diminish considerably.
While the vast majority of people who come here illegally do so in order to find work and improve their lives, there are some who come for more sinister reasons. These include criminals, and possibly, some terrorists. That is why there are other things that need to be done to protect our borders--and this means all of our borders, north and south. These things include hiring more border agents and updating the equipment used for screening at our nation's airports, ports and border stations.
More than any other nation on earth, America has always been a nation of immigrants, but, like any other country, there are limits as to how many people from other lands we can absorb in a given period of time. We must regain control of our borders, so that we can continue to welcome those people from all over the globe who come here legally to take part of the American dream.