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Public Statements

Immigration Bills

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BARLETTA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the wake of the passage of the Senate amnesty bill to shed light on two important elements of illegal immigration that the Senate has grossly overlooked. As we know, the Senate bill pairs border security with amnesty. This makes no sense. You would never replace your carpet at home if you still had a hole in the roof.

I am hopeful that the House will put border security first, but I still have concerns. That's why today I'm introducing two pieces of legislation. One will address the problem of visa overstays, and the other will ask for a full accounting of what went wrong with the 1986 amnesty deal that led to our current illegal immigration problem.

The first bill, the Visa Overstay Enforcement Act of 2013, will, for the first time, make staying in the country after your visa has expired a felony criminal offense instead of just a civil offense. Upon a first offense, the visa overstay would bring a $10,000 fine and 1 year in jail. The illegal immigrant may not be legally admitted to the United States for 5 years from the date of conviction and may not apply for a visa for 10 years after the date of conviction. A second offense would be subject to a fine of $15,000 and up to 5 years in jail. The illegal immigrant would be banned from entering the United States for life.

Most of the talk about this issue has been focused on the southern border, but that won't solve our illegal immigration problem alone. If we fix our broken visa system, we can take care of nearly half of our illegal immigration concerns.

The second part of this bill requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit a plan to Congress detailing a biometric exit program involving the taking of fingerprints of those leaving the country at all land, sea, and air ports.

As I have often said, since 40 percent of illegal immigrants here today are here on an expired visa, it is obvious that if your State is home to an international airport, then you effectively live in a border State.

And we should learn from history. In 1986, we were told that if we just granted amnesty to 1.5 million illegal immigrants, the problem would go away. That didn't happen. Instead, 3 million people came here to take advantage of amnesty. We need to know what effect the 1986 amnesty program had on the American worker and whether the effects still linger today. Were wages depressed? Were jobs taken away from legal workers because so many received amnesty? We should learn our lesson.

My second piece of legislation is the 1986 Amnesty Transparency Act. It requires a comprehensive report on the failures of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which are many.

Speaking of 1986, let's remember in that year, one of the bombers in the 1993 World Trade Center attack was granted amnesty. He had originally arrived on an agricultural visa. He was really a taxi driver, and all he ever planted was a bomb.

The real losers in this debate are the legal immigrants who have followed the rules. Here is a clear example:

Under the ObamaCare employer mandate, any company with 50 or more employees must provide health insurance to their employees or pay a fine of $3,000 per employee, but illegal immigrants granted amnesty under the Senate bill are exempt from ObamaCare. So I ask you: What is the incentive to hire a legal American worker who would come with a health care price tag over an illegal worker who would not? None.

We have immigration laws for two reasons: to protect our national security and to protect American jobs. The Senate bill violates both of those principles. So tell me, why would we do this?

I ask the House to consider my commonsense bills and put border security first. Let's put the safety of the American citizens first.


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