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Immigration Reform


Location: Washington, DC

Immigration Reform

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann wrote the following column:

Over the past several weeks, the U.S. Senate has been embroiled in discussions over immigration reform. While it is clear that what we're doing now isn't working - our borders are not secure, those attempting to enter the U.S. lawfully are caught up in red tape, and those here illegally have evaded enforcement - the question remains how best to solve these problems.

The last time our immigration laws were overhauled was in 1986, when Congress granted amnesty to the almost three million illegal immigrants in the U.S., promising increased border security and enforcement to ensure that such a policy wouldn't be needed again. Twenty years later, the number of illegal immigrants has more than quadrupled and the Senate is attempting to salvage a new reform bill which could have much the same result.

Rather than repeat a process we already know won't work, Congress ought to begin any reform with true improvements to border security. While the Senate's proposal calls for the implementation of several security measures, many of these requirements are already in law and others, like the hiring of additional Border Patrol agents, aren't provided funding. The bill lacks commonsense requirements like the development of a comprehensive border security plan, and it actually limits the federal government's ability to perform thorough background checks on those applying for the new "Z visa" - which would allow approximately 12 million illegal immigrants the chance to stay in the U.S. - by requiring them to be completed within one business day. This provision would make it nearly impossible for the U.S. to ensure that visas aren't given to dangerous individuals.

Once our borders are secure, we can address the greater issue of reform. Those who approach our immigration system legally and work through the established process should be welcomed. However, any proposal for reform must not reward those who choose to break our laws by entering the country illegally. Instead, strong enforcement of current laws, at the border and in the workplace, as well as improved efficiency in our application system, should be the first steps in any reform plan.

Although the Senate immigration proposal was nearly defeated this month, proponents are attempting to give it new life. In doing so, I'm hopeful that negotiators will learn from the mistakes of our past and find a responsible solution to the problem of illegal immigration which will not compromise our nation's security or economy. Americans deserve nothing less.

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