Each day, brave men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line to keep us safe. I have worked with the police departments in our area and national law enforcement groups to promote policies that support our officers in protecting our neighborhoods. I have authored legislation to establish cross-jurisdictional task forces to fight the scourge of gang violence in areas such as the Route 222 corridor. I have also supported legislation to provide collective bargaining rights for all state and local public safety officers, as well as legislation to expand access to Pell Grants for children of a parent or guardian killed in the line of duty as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or member of a rescue squad.
I firmly believe in the Second Amendment right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, and I have been a staunch defender of this freedom. In fact, I signed on to an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in the landmark Supreme Court case, D.C. v. Heller, in which the Court finally affirmed the individual right to bear arms and maintained that all Americans have a constitutional right to self-defense.
Immigrants from around the globe helped build the United States of America. Families and individuals from nations near and far continue to flock to the Land of the Free in search of the American Dream. However, the presence and contributions of legal immigrants cannot overshadow the fact that nearly twelve million illegal aliens are living and working in the United States. With 70 different visa categories, many individuals enter this country by legal means but overstay their visas. We are a nation of laws, and we must promote respect for those laws. I oppose any amnesty program that overlooks or downplays illegal activity. Additionally, I oppose allowing illegal immigrants collecting Social Security benefits.
On border security, I am deeply committed to developing a reasonable immigration policy for this country that welcomes hard-working, law-abiding individuals who want to contribute to our great nation. However, I believe that can only be achieved alongside policies that provide effective control over our borders and prevent anyone from entering this country in an unlawful manner. I voted in favor of the authorizing and funding the construction of barriers along some 700 miles of the U.S. border with Mexico, but I also recognize that border security must go beyond physical obstacles. To promote the enforcement of our immigration laws, I have authored legislation to crack down on so-called "sanctuary cities," jurisdictions which openly refuse to enforce federal immigration laws, and to deny bail to illegal aliens arrested on felony charges. Furthermore, I voted to authorize the construction of 8000 new detention beds to ensure our state and local law enforcement departments have sufficient capacity to secure undocumented aliens when necessary.
Given today's technology, traditional proof of identification like social security cards, driver's licenses and birth certificates, can be duplicated and purchased at relatively low cost. This has posed a great challenge to employers hiring full time, part time and seasonal workers. To mitigate this issue, I support the issuance of tamper proof biometric cards that can be distributed to visiting individuals seeking temporary employment upon entering our country. Currently, employers utilize E-Verify, a voluntary Internet based system operated through the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration allowing employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their workers. Although I support this worksite enforcement initiative, I believe advanced biometric technology will further enhance our ability to identify those who have entered the country illegally or failed to exit in a timely manner.