Representative Petri believes that our nation needs to address the growing illegal immigration problem by enhancing border enforcement and requiring businesses to more closely examine the legal status of their foreign workers. He has voted for bills that provide resources to secure our borders.
Some worry that proposals before congress are a move towards amnesty, which Congress provided in 1986 and has come to be viewed by many as a failure. Like many Americans, he has serious concerns about any proposal to grant amnesty to aliens who are residing illegally in this country. As a nation, we have always been generous to immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. Illegal immigration flouts our laws and places an unfair burden on the legal residents and citizens of our country. Amnesty proposals send the wrong incentive to would-be immigrants, encouraging them to circumvent the legal immigration process. History supports this claim as we saw in 1986. Senate supporters prefer to call their proposal a "pathway to citizenship," but we already have a "pathway to citizenship" that millions of immigrants have been following for decades.
While clearly border enforcement is key to preventing future illegal immigration, at some point, we do need to consider the practical realities of the approximately 11 - 12 million illegals that are currently in the country--many with children born in the U.S. Mass deportation is most likely not a realistic possibility. In considering reform, Rep. Petri believes that it is important that we enforce our immigration laws vigorously and improve them wherever possible.