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An Update on Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Border Control

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An Update on Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Border Control

Weekly Column by Congressman Doc Hastings

January 13, 2006

In December, the House of Representatives approved a bill focused solely on enforcement and border security. I support getting control of our borders, but without a reformed guestworker program this proposal falls short of the comprehensive immigration solution that Central Washington needs.

To fix our broken immigration system we must strengthen border control AND create a legal channel for workers to come here and fill jobs that Americans are not.

A reformed guestworker program means our government decides who enters our country, what rules they must follow and when they must leave. A guestworker program makes certain that the federal government is in control of immigration and enhances our security.

A functional guestworker program is critical to our economy and our way of life. The existing H2A guestworker program cannot keep up with our agriculture labor needs. A ready pool of American workers to fill these jobs does not exist.

In my view, a new guestworker program must establish a simple way for employers to access the legal and willing workforce they need. The red tape that has made the current program useless must be cut drastically.

An easy method of verifying a job applicant's eligibility to work should be a component of any plan so that employers are not forced to serve as law enforcement officers.

The program should also provide a means for those who want to work here legally to fill jobs Americans are not taking. I cannot fault anyone for wanting to come here to work for a better life for themselves and their families. That is the American way.

The undocumented workers who are currently here must be handled in a fair and practical manner. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to an estimated 11 million undocumented workers.

Although an enforcement only bill has received initial approval by the House of Representatives, it is very unlikely that the bill will become law in its current form.

In the year ahead I'll continue doing everything I can to ensure that the final immigration reform bill that is sent to the White House to be signed into law is comprehensive and includes a guestworker program so that the needs of our homeland security and our economic security are met.

I'm working closely with Republican and Democrat members of Congress who share my concerns. And, I'm making my case to those who oppose guestworker programs so that at the end of the day our immigration laws provide the border control and the guestworker program that Central Washington needs.

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