It is imperative that we as a nation secure all four of our borders, particularly our southern border where hundreds of thousands of people enter illegally each year. I support measures to increase our border patrol presence by using the latest technology, including satellites, motion sensors and aerial surveillance, to lock down our border and best ensure we know who is in our country at any given time. That includes finishing the border fence.
The reality is, for decades the federal government has failed to do its job in securing the border, and amnesty last awarded 25 years ago has done nothing but perpetuate the illegal immigration problem. As a result, states like Arizona are forced to act to protect their communities from drug dealers and criminals. They are on the right path.
While I am sympathetic to the struggles of many who cross our border illegally seeking a better life for their families, we are a nation of laws and cannot reward illegal activity with a blanket amnesty program that offers citizenship to over 10 million illegal immigrants. Some estimates suggest that an amnesty program like the one proposed in 2007 would have a net cost to US taxpayers of over $2.6 trillion when factoring in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits to these new citizens.
Additionally, companies that import or knowingly hire illegal immigrants should be punished, and E-verify should be reauthorized to allow businesses to determine a job applicant's legal status. Legal immigration should be based on documented economic need, for both skilled and unskilled labor.
Although it would be impractical to deport each individual person, we need to get moving on ways we can register these illegal immigrants and get in the "back of the line." The Immigration Service should be ramped up to process individuals more rapidly, grant citizenship more quickly (not the 16 years it has taken some), and deport those with a criminal background.