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Public Statements

Comprehensive Immigraton Reform Act of 2006

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I rise in support of the comprehensive immigration reform bill today. This bill appreciates the importance of addressing the problem of illegal immigration and border security while at the same time proposing an intelligent solution to the issue of the millions of people here without documentation today.

First and foremost, we need to control our borders and enforce our laws. This bill adds thousands of additional border patrol agents and authorizes the use of the National Guard to help secure our borders. It wisely increases the use of technology--including unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, cameras, and motion sensors--so we can succeed in controlling our borders. It also enhances the authority of our immigration enforcement officials to deport criminals and others who may seek to do us harm. This will significantly enhance our ability to catch people before they enter the country, and deport those who do. I could not support a bill that I did not believe could secure our borders.

Border security alone is not sufficient. We must also enforce our laws in our interior. This bill includes a strong employment verification system, so that employers can determine who in this country is eligible to work, and will be punished when they employ those who are here illegally. If we do not dry up the demand for illegal workers among employers, it will remain difficult to control the supply of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country.

Law enforcement alone, however, is not the entire solution. We must be realistic about how to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in this country. It is not realistic to deport them all. For those hardworking, law-abiding people who have been here for years and set down roots in our communities, it is reasonable to allow them to earn citizenship over a significant time period. This is not amnesty, and it is not automatic legalization. Under this bill, if they pay thousands of dollars in fines for violating our immigration laws, work for a number of years, learn English, and pay any taxes they may owe, only then do they go to the back of the citizenship line. They are asked to earn their legalization over the course of eleven or twelve years and demonstrate that they deserve to be an American.

We have succeeded in creating a comprehensive bipartisan solution, one that I believe effectively addresses each of the many complex issues that plague our immigration system today. There are few issues as important as immigration facing this country today, and I am glad that we have put the time and effort into crafting a solution we can be proud of: one that is both tough and fair.

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