I strongly believe that a solution to our country's immigration crisis must begin with securing our borders. Today, it is estimated that over 12 million illegal immigrants are living in the United States with hundreds of thousands more crossing our borders each year. We are now at critical point in the immigration crisis, and I believe that we must make the necessary investments to keep our borders secure.
I have consistently supported proposals to increase the number of border patrol agents, as well as increased funding for the technology and equipment necessary for these agents to prevent people from entering our country illegally. Since coming to Congress in January 2007, I have worked to successfully increase Border Patrol funding by nearly double over 2006 levels.
However, border enforcement alone will not solve the problem. Each year thousands of undocumented workers enter the United States in search of employment opportunities. Although it is against the law to knowingly hire undocumented workers, the incentive of cheap labor combined with the lax enforcement of employment laws have encouraged many employers to hire illegal immigrants. As a result, we must improve the workplace enforcement of our employment laws. That is why I am a strong backer of E-Verify, an electronic employment eligibility verification program available to employers that uses Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security databases to quickly, inexpensively, and accurately check whether employees are legally employable.
Although a solution will inevitably require bipartisan support, I will oppose any proposal that amounts to amnesty. The United States has a rich tradition built upon the hard work of immigrant citizens from all over the world, and we welcome legal immigration. Out of respect for our laws and those who have followed them, I will continue to work hard to ensure that American citizenship is reserved for those who play by the rules.