Illegal immigration is one of the most pressing issues facing our nation, and securing our borders is a top priority.
If you want to see the problems caused by illegal immigration, you don't have to look any further than Georgia. The National Census Bureau's 2006 population estimate indicates more than 795,000 illegal immigrants reside in our state. These illegal immigrants are putting a tremendous strain on Georgia's hospitals, school systems and social welfare programs. Unless we make significant changes to secure our border first and foremost, we will absolutely see the number of illegal immigrants continue to rise.
I recently visited some of the more porous areas along our nation's southern border. After meeting with border patrol agents and inspecting the infrastructure, the most important lesson I learned is that with the right tools and manpower, securing our border can be a reality.
To achieve this goal, I have supported legislation that puts border security first, including H.R. 6061, the Secure Fences Act; H.R. 6095, the Immigration Law Enforcement Act; and H.R. 4830, the Border Tunnel Prevention Act.
I have also pledged to follow these principles when passing legislation on immigration reform:
1. The purpose of U.S. immigration policy is to benefit the citizens of the United States.
2. Since immigration policy can profoundly shape a country, it should be set by deliberate actions - not by accident or acquiescence - with careful consideration to ensure that it does not adversely affect the quality of life of American citizens and their communities.
3. Immigration policy should be based on and adhere to the rule of law. Immigration laws must be enforced consistently and uniformly throughout the United States.
4. Non-citizens enter the United States as guests and must obey the rules governing their entry. The U.S. government must track the entry, stay, and departure of all visa-holders to ensure that they comply fully with the terms of their visas, or to remove them if they fail to comply.
5. The borders of the United States must be physically secured at the earliest possible time. An effective barrier to the illegal entry of both aliens and contraband is vital to U.S. security.
6. Those responsible for facilitating illegal immigration shall be sought, arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law and shall forfeit any profits from such activity. This applies to smugglers and traffickers of people, as well as to those involved in the production, procurement, distribution, or use of fraudulent or counterfeit documents.
7. U.S. employers shall be given a simple and streamlined process to determine whether employees are legally eligible to work. Employers who obey the law shall be protected both from liability and from unfair competition by those who violate immigration law. The violators shall be subject to fines and taxes in excess of what they would have paid to employ U.S. citizens and legal residents for the same work.
8. Those who enter or remain in the United States in violation of the law shall be detained and removed expeditiously. Illegal aliens shall not accrue any benefit, including U.S. citizenship, as a result of their illegal entry or presence in the United States.
9. No federal, state or local entity shall reward individuals for violating immigration laws by granting public benefits or services, by issuing or accepting any form of identification, or by providing any other assistance that facilitates unlawful presence or employment in this country. All federal and law enforcement agencies shall cooperate fully with federal immigration authorities and shall report to such authorities any information they receive indicating that an individual may have violated immigration laws.
10. Illegal aliens currently in the United States may be afforded a one-time opportunity to leave the country without being prosecuted. Those who do not take advantage of this opportunity will be removed and permanently barred from returning.