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Immigration Reform Focus Should Be On Security First


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Both Houses of Congress passed comprehensive immigration reform plans in 2006, but they were vastly different and no agreement was reached. Congress did enact a security measure to build 700 miles of fencing along our southern border. I strongly favor that approach because the first priority should be shutting off the flow of individuals coming into our country illegally.

The new Senate plan does includes border security measures, but there is too much emphasis on providing a path toward citizenship for millions of illegals and too little emphasis on ensuring our national sovereignty. We should prove we can secure the border before talking about guest worker programs and other issues. No one knows how many people are in the U.S. illegally, perhaps 12-20 million, and more are coming each day.

We also do not know how many terrorists and criminals may have slipped in over the five years since September 11, 2001, or even before. Three of the suspects accused in the plot to attack Ft. Dix, N.J., have been in the country illegally for more than two decades. Two of those suspects had a combined 75 arrests and citations over the past 20 years, yet authorities failed to detect their illegal status. How can we expect the system to work more efficiently under a new plan that includes even more bureaucracy and paperwork?

I also have concerns about the message we send by rewarding individuals for breaking the law. The millions who came into the U.S. illegally would get work permits and entitlement to secure employment while legal applicants would remain on the outside looking in, waiting for their papers to be processed.

Then there is the cost of this reform effort. The Washington Times called it a "time bomb." The Heritage Foundation estimates that the plan could bring an explosion of spending in government services at all levels and endanger the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs. The price tag could be $2.5 trillion over the next two generations, producing staggering tax increases.

Border enforcement alone is not a complete answer, but the lack of security is the main reason the 1986 immigration reform plan failed. We should not make that mistake again.

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