Ignoring Illegal Immigration Won't Make It Go Away: An Update on Immigration Reform in Washington
by U.S. Representative Barbara Cubin
Every day I hear from scores of my fellow Wyoming citizens about the continued and growing problem of illegal immigration. Time and again my friends from across the Cowboy State write and call me in utter disbelief about Washington's inaction on securing our borders. Let me be clear, I share your frustration.
While Congress wastes time on trivial matters, estimates about how many illegal immigrants live in the U.S. have increased from 12 to 13 million. Every single day hundreds more make their way across our unprotected border. Experts agree that as Mexico's economy slows, the influx of illegal immigrants is likely to become even worse. As so many of you have rightly said, it is high time Congress displayed the political courage to solve this problem. Solutions will not be easy - particularly in an election year - but action is imperative.
This is why in December 2007 I became a co-sponsor of Representative Heath Shuler's (D-NC) Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act. I eagerly co-sponsored this bipartisan legislation because it offers a commonsense solution to illegal immigration enforcement. I think we can all agree commonsense legislation is definitely something we want to see more of in Washington.
As I have always stated, we must secure our borders before we can address other problems related to immigration. Quite simply, the SAVE Act focuses first and foremost on gaining operational control of our southern border. Beyond that, it takes dramatic steps to dry up employment opportunities for illegal immigrants.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the bill, however, is not found in its legislative language. Rather, the bipartisan support the bill has garnered seems to indicate that maybe - just maybe - Congress is starting to get the message about immigration reform. While I serve as Wyoming's representative, I want to make sure Congress protects America's workers and hunkers down on border security. I am perfectly willing to cross political divides in that effort, and am pleased to see that at least some Democrats are finally willing to step up to the plate as well.
Unfortunately, it's an election year, and the Democrat leadership in Washington refuses to act. Democrat House leaders don't want to offer a solution to immigration because they know doing so would demonstrate how terribly out of step they are with the rest of the country. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and other Democrat leaders are not only ignoring Republican proposals, they also ignore conservative Democrat proposals, such as Shuler's. This inaction reveals Pelosi and company's primary concern is for own political gain, rather than what is best for the nation.
To help force the issue I have signed what is known in Washington as a discharge petition on the SAVE Act. A discharge petition is a rarely used tactic that allows House Members to bypass obstructionist leadership and bring a buried bill to the House floor for open and honest debate. Discharge petitions require the support of 218 Members to be successful. Shuler's petition currently has 186 signatures.
I recognize that the immigration issue is a volatile one, but that does not mean Congress gets let off the hook. Congress should do whatever it takes to accomplish solid immigration reform. We are only 32 signatures short of forcing action. I promise you that I will keep up the pressure.