Each year, millions of immigrants enter our country legally and embark on the path to becoming American citizens. Unfortunately, however, we know that about 12 million illegal immigrants have also crossed our borders and taken up residence here.
This is largely because the federal government's refusal to enforce immigration laws already on the books has made it easy to enter the United States illegally. Washington's willingness to look the other way when it comes to both enforcing our immigration laws and protecting our nation's borders -- a serious national security threat -- has forced states to begin implementing their own laws to crack down on illegal immigration.
In April, Arizona became the first state to do so when its governor signed a bill into law that seeks to identify, prosecute and deport those who reside in their state illegally.
What Arizona is doing shouldn't surprise anyone. It's a natural and legitimate response to Washington ignoring the problem for decades, and I support it, as do the majority of Americans according to news reports and polls.
Not surprisingly though, many in Washington have criticized Arizona's attempt to curb illegal immigration in their state. In fact, the Obama administration recently announced that a federal lawsuit will be filed against Arizona because of this law. I find Washington's reasoning on this issue just plain baffling.
Instead of using the federal government's resources to challenge this law, these critics should use the government's authority to do what it was designed to do: protect our nation, secure our borders and enforce the laws on the books.
Those who continue to tolerate illegal immigration in our country are set against the will of the American people, who largely oppose granting amnesty to those who enter our country illegally. But what's more offensive is that a state government is being ridiculed and threatened by its federal government for trying to tackle a real, dangerous problem on their borders -- a job that the federal government is supposed to be doing.
In 2007, when Congress tried to pass immigration reform legislation, the American people spoke loud and clear that amnesty is an unacceptable means of addressing the ever-growing illegal immigration problem in this country. I listened to those cries and didn't relent in the fight to stop Washington politicians from creating a system that would grant a free pass to citizenship to millions of illegal aliens.
And I will continue to support and pressure the government on all levels to enforce the immigration laws currently on the books, as well as strengthen border enforcement measures.
Please let me know about any issues of importance to you and your family by contacting me at any of my state offices or in my Washington office by mail at U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, or by phone at 202-224-4623. You can also reach me on the web at http://vitter.senate.gov