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Issue Position: Immigration

Issue Position


It's important to note that Congress writes the law. Congress does not enforce the law. The Administration enforces the law. All the laws Congress writes have no effect unless the Administration enforces them.

That's important to note because Congress has passed many effective laws to curtail illegal immigration and, if they had been enforced over the years, we would not be in the situation we find ourselves in today.

For example:

* In 1995, I chaired the 54-member Congressional Task Force on Immigration Reform. Approximately 60% of the more than 80 specific recommendations we made were included in the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996", which was signed into law on September 30, 1996.

* Among the law's provisions was worksite enforcement. Stiff penalties, including jail time, were prescribed for employers who knowingly hired illegal immigrants. Instead of enforcing the law, the then-Administration made it easy for illegal immigrants to forge work papers and impossible for employers to challenge an employee's right to work.

That's just one of hundreds of examples. I have met repeatedly with the directors of the then-Immigration and Naturalization Service and the now-Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with Presidents and top White House advisors, demanding better enforcement of our laws.

Recently, President Bush began a more aggressive worksite enforcement program, has required more industries to use an easy employee verification system I authored into law, and has stepped up the program to screen for immigration status at local jails--another program I authored, with Ventura County's jail being a model of the program's effectiveness.

It's a good start. But only a start. For example:

* In 2004, Congress passed the "Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act", which requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to propose minimum standards for identification used by airline passengers. We're still waiting. And while we do, anyone with a matricula consular identification card can board an airplane.

* Consular cards are issued by foreign governments. There is no attempt to determine whether the person obtaining the card is legally in the United States. In fact, the only people who need these cards are illegal immigrants, criminals and terrorists. No one denies this fact.

So I will continue to author and work with my colleagues to author good laws. And I will continue to pressure those who enforce the law until they are enforced.

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