Clearly, Congress has failed to keep its promise to the American people to secure our borders and stop illegal immigration. The nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center estimates that about 850,000 illegal immigrants enter the U.S. each year, and that the total number of illegal immigrants in our country already exceeds 12 million.
Sen. Jim DeMint believes America is the land of hope and opportunity that welcomes legal immgrants with open arms. He wants to encourage legal immigrants to come to the U.S., respect our laws, embrace our values, and become American citizens. But for citizenship to have meaning, we must reject amnesty, secure our borders and create a legal immigration system that is a net plus for America.
Sen. DeMint was a leader in the fight against amnesty during the comprehensive immigration debate. He is also one of the original members of the "Border Security and Enforcement First Caucus" which focuses on enhancing both interior enforcement and security at our borders. To ensure we are moving forward, DeMint, along with 11 other senators, introduced various pieces of commonsense immigration legislation, including: a ban on drivers' licenses for illegal aliens, making English our national language, and worksite enforcement.
As his part of the package, DeMint introduced the "Complete the Fence Act," which requires the completion of 700 miles of completed reinforced metal fencing along the Southwest border by December 10, 2010. In 2006, Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, which required 700-plus miles of fencing along the southwest border. Unfortunately, the Secure Fence Act only required a deadline for the first 370 miles.
Today, due to years of neglect, our southern border is where the majority of cocaine is smuggled in, and where heroin, marijuana and crystal meth flood into the U.S. Human traffickers smuggle thousands of people across the border to be sold into modern day slavery and prostitution. And an open border is a national security threat that leaves America vulnerable to terrorists and weapons of mass destruction.
As Sen. DeMint has said: "Our nation's borders are fundamental to our national security and our sovereignty, and we can't delay any longer. If we want to have a legal immigration system that works, we must have a secure border so we know who is entering and leaving the United States."