A few weeks ago, the President gave a speech in Washington in which he talked about immigration. The speech was long on rhetoric and short on specifics.
I agree with the President that the immigration system is broken and that we should put politics aside on the issue. I do not agree, however, with his statement that "laws like Arizona's put huge pressures on local law enforcement to enforce rules that ultimately are unenforceable." I was also alarmed when the President said he disagrees with those who say immigration shouldn't be dealt with until the borders are secured.
America is a nation of immigrants, and we also are a nation of laws. The safety of our nation is dependent upon us doing a better job of controlling who and what crosses our borders. Unfortunately, the situation at our borders has deteriorated to a dangerous level with much violence.
I believe that we should have a way for people to come to this country legally in order to work. But I have real concerns if we reward those who have violated our laws at the expense of those who have waited patiently in their home country and tried to follow our laws.
Our challenge is to deal in a fair, common sense, and compassionate way with the many issues raised by our border security and immigration policies. A comprehensive solution must address at least these four issues:
1. Border security and enforcement;
2. The government process for coming here legally and the government process for employers to check on an applicant's status has to work;
3. A way for people to come here legally to work and help support their family, in which we know who comes here, where they go, and know they go back home at the end of their time;
4. Then dealing with the approximately 12 million who are already here illegally in a fair and compassionate way. I prefer Senator Cornyn's proposal that they have five years to go home where they can then apply to come back.
None of this discussion on other issues is relevant, though, unless we can control the border.
President Obama campaigned on passing comprehensive immigration reform. There are also indications that Congressional leadership will push such a bill this year. We should not repeat the mistakes of the past and should carefully consider changes to the law and how each provision will be implemented and enforced.
Securing our borders
Taking control of our border is a crucial first step towards immigration reform. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, knowing who and what is coming across our border is vital to our national security. I support measures to secure our expansive and porous border, such as fencing and surveillance technology to aid our border security agents.
I am a co-sponsor of H.R. 1437, a bill that would establish a Southern Border Security Task Force. To read more about H.R. 1437, please click here.
Guest Worker Programs .
Many immigrants, both legal and illegal, play a key role in our economy. Many businesses count on their participation in order to be successful.
I believe that we need some kind of new guest worker program, but I do not think that it is right to reward those who violate our laws by entering illegally or staying here illegally. The same goes for those employing people illegally and falsifying Social Security numbers. Additionally, there are many people who have been trying to follow the law, waiting patiently in their home country to have their application considered, and we should be fair to them.
There has been some progress on guest worker programs in the last several months, but much more needs to be accomplished. In addition, the federal government must prove itself capable of handling the technological and process challenges which interior enforcement and a guest worker program would pose.
It is a complex debate, and all proposals should be considered. However, we must be cautious to not make any decisions that could put additional economic strain on our country in these uncertain economic times. Any reform should help make our nation stronger and better able to face the challenges of the future.