*The substance of this statement was delivered at a Boise Press Conference in May of this year.
Illegal immigration is a crucial issue. Idahoans care deeply about it Americans are very troubled.
The Arizona law has forced the illegal immigration problem onto center stage.
First -- let's talk about the building national crisis. The Arizona state government took decisive action to protect its state and people from an onslaught of violence. It is also facing a crisis because its social service systems and institutions are being overwhelmed by the presence of some 500,000 illegal immigrants.
Of course Arizona had to act. Now we see demonstrations and cries of "racism' and calls for boycotts against the state of Arizona. That is wrong.
The anger and criticism is misplaced. It should be directed at the federal government -- which has played games with this major problem instead of finding solutions.
I am particularly incensed about president Obama's decision to sue the state of Arizona over its desperate attempt to defend itself, to defend a culture of law and order.
That said, it is clear that we cannot have a piece-meal solution to the problem of illegal immigration. I'm not here to tell Arizona what it should do, and I commend the legislators of that state for forcing the political elites to pay attention to this crisis, to the plight of many states, particularly in the southwest.
It is the federal government which is responsible for securing our borders, not the individual states. They simply don't have the resources. Instead of messing around with unconstitutional threats like Obamacare -- congress should be focused on protecting the nation.
I believe my background in immigration law, my expertise on the complexities of this problem uniquely qualify me to help find real, lasting solutions to this crisis.
To that end I want Idahoans to know the principles I would advocate should I have the honor to serve as your next congressman:
First: no meaningful reform can move forward without securing our borders. Americans need to know, for certain, that the federal government is in control of our borders not a bunch of drug thugs in Mexico or South America.
The situation down there is serious. Very serious, and deteriorating quickly.
I read a study earlier this year indicating that violence is on the rise. According to a report by the national drug intelligence center part of the justice department we are seeing an average of three border patrol agents physically attacked each and every day!
That same report found that someone is kidnapped every 35 hours from Phoenix, Arizona!
To secure our nation, I advocate sending the US military to the border to battle the drug terrorists just like they are battling Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. They would provide serious firepower and back-up to our border patrol agents.
The abuse of our citizens our sovereignty must simply end. I call upon president Obama to send military forces to the border immediately.
Once the chaos has been arrested, I believe we can move forward to have a rational discussion about future policies and what we should do with those already here, who got here illegally. We can have sober conversations about the need of Idaho's agricultural sector for a steady, dependable supply of labor.
I would like to lay out a few principles for immigration reform that I believe could work:
Let me make it clear -- I do not support amnesty for illegals. Let me say it again: no amnesty not now, not ever.
Those here illegally must return to their home countries and apply to re-enter per the laws of the United States of America.
Massive police round-ups are both frightening and expensive. And I fear it would take too long.
To help speed-up the process, I would be willing to offer illegals an incentive to come forward: should they do so willingly and in some reasonable time-frame -- we would guarantee them first consideration by the state department to return legally.
Those we have to go find and arrest well, they go to the very end of the line.
While that is happening, we need to greatly streamline our guest worker program, particularly for the agricultural sector. Farmers wishing to hire workers should be able to do so in a straight-forward, fairly simple manner.
Agriculture is, after all, the backbone of our state's economy. We have to pay attention to its legitimate needs.
My fellow Idahoans -- despite what you may be hearing out there, Raul Labrador is not "soft" on illegal immigration. I understand the issue better than probably anyone else in Idaho.
I have great respect for the law. That is why I spent years to become an attorney. Immigration laws must be enforced so they are respected.
I will close by observing that this challenge is reaching a critical stage -- which can cause social unrest and heighten racial tensions. No one wants that.
While we are dealing with policies and legal issues -- it is important to remember that we are still dealing with human beings.
America is a great and generous country, built by immigrants. But it is also a nation built on the law. Once legal order is restored, we can regain our empathy for the poor father and mother who only want opportunity for their children.
I will close by sharing a few words from Ronald Reagan's farewell address to the nation on January 11, 1989. He shared his vision of America, his "shining city upon a hill."
I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.