I am concerned with the challenges our country faces from an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants (and growing) in the United States. The indifference of the Executive Branch to enforce our laws invites a worsening of this failure. Additionally, employers have no deterrent for hiring illegal immigrants because there is little if any enforcement, investigation or prosecution, for doing so.
The immigration bill currently under debate in the Senate contains strengths and weaknesses and I hope the legislation will be improved through amendments before arriving for consideration in the House of Representatives. We must secure our borders and enforce our current laws. Our overarching priorities must be the security and welfare of our citizens. Whatever final legislation is proposed, I will evaluate it with the following principles:
We must not reward people who have broken the law and encourage more illegal behavior. Such would be unjust to American citizens as well as immigrants who are legally in the U.S.
We must secure our borders through greater manpower, technology, and resources.
We must hold employers accountable and provide a fraud-proof verification system.
We must gain operational control of our borders so we know who comes in and out of the country.
We must reassess our current guest worker programs for industries unable to fill vacancies, ensuring employers offer Americans potential jobs before foreign workers.
In early March, I sent a letter to President George W. Bush to applaud some recent enforcement efforts but to stress that much more is necessary. I emphasized to him that employers who hire illegal immigrants create an unfair competition for the American worker. The issues I raised with the President reflect the "Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005" (HR4437) which I cosponsored and the House of Representatives passed in December of 2005. This legislation was not acted on in the Senate and it died there. It is my hope that any legislation we pass in the future is more reflective of that strong border security measure than the current legislation in the Senate.