Our nation's history has been molded and shaped by the collective narratives of people from across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and elsewhere. From our country's very beginning to the present day, immigrants have helped build our nation and make America strong. Their labor and creativity is vital to the economy, and it will continue to be needed to sustain our economic growth in these difficult times.
For too long, politicians in Washington have used the issue of immigration to divide the nation rather than find real solutions. Our broken immigration system can only be fixed by putting politics aside and offering real solutions that reflect our interests and values as Americans.
In January 2008, I visited the Mexican border to review the needs of our Border Patrol agents. The stamina and courage our agents showed in the face of daily threats was inspiring, and I believe it is crucial that we provide them with additional resources. That is why I supported the Fiscal Year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations bill in which we provided $10.1 billion for Customs and Border Protection, a $306 million increase over the previous year's funding level. Also included in that bill is $800 million for tougher border security, infrastructure, and technology, and $3.5 billion to fully support more than 20,000 Border Patrol agents -- a fifty percent increase since 2006. I also supported an extension of the Social Security E-Verify program which allows employers to easily determine the legal status of new hires.
By increasing border security funding and implementing all of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, the 110th Congress took steps forward in addressing our nation's failed immigration system. But these efforts fall short of the comprehensive reforms that are needed. I believe that we must pass comprehensive immigration reform which includes the best possible border security, tough employer accountability, and a guest-worker program that brings undocumented workers out of hiding, and requires them to maintain a job, pay taxes, obey the law, learn English, and clear criminal and terrorism background checks.