Immigration Reform & Border Security

Immigration Reform & Border Security

At the beginning of this Congress, a framework for bipartisan immigration reform was unveiled in the Senate. While no specific bill was introduced as part of this announcement, the proposal serves as a jumping off point for Congress to consider the best ways to solve a problem that has been growing in the past years—illegal immigration.

Due to years of inaction on the part of the federal government, our country now faces an illegal immigration crisis. Federal laws go unenforced, leaving cash-strapped state and local governments to fend for themselves. When state governments take steps on their own to fill the void created by Washington, they are often met with resistance from the Obama administration.

Making matters worse, the President constantly speaks of his desire to offer amnesty to illegal immigrants. Amnesty is not an option. We must not reward people for breaking the law. I firmly believe that anyone seeking to become a citizen should do so legally.

The real solution starts with securing our borders. We must stop allowing individuals to enter the country illegally without recourse. We must hold those who break the law accountable.

Securing the borders requires that we allocate the resources, surveillance technology and manpower necessary to ensure that individuals crossing our borders are doing so legally. At a time when our nation continues to live under the threat of international terrorism, it is of the utmost importance that we establish border security. By starting here, we will prevent millions of illegal immigrants from infringing upon every legal citizen’s right to pursue the American dream. Most importantly, no immigration reform policies we pass will be effective until we secure the border. Adding more rules to the books without enforcing the ones we have will do little good in the long run.

Short of comprehensive reform, there are simple steps that Washington can take to help. For instance, we can give employers the tools they need to ensure individuals they hire are legally cleared to work in the United States. The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act of 2013 will fill that gap in our enforcement plan by permanently reauthorizing the E-Verify program—an extremely effective Internet-based system that compares information to confirm employment eligibility—and making its use mandatory for all employers within one year of date of enactment.  The bill—which I am cosponsoring—also requires federal contractors and agencies to use the program immediately, increases penalties for employers who illegally hire undocumented workers, requires employers to terminate the employment of those found unauthorized to work due to a check through E-Verify and helps cut down on identity theft by ensuring that the government catches multiple uses of Social Security numbers.

Since a comprehensive bill is not likely to pass without lengthy consideration, we need to start with areas of agreement, like mandating E-Verify, and by enforcing the rules already on the books.

Instead of taking that moderated, measured approach, President Obama continues to pursue ideas such as offering illegal immigrants a path to citizenship if they attend college. This is a backdoor amnesty policy, and if the President insists on amnesty we aren’t going to get very far. Amnesty has been tried in the past and it failed. It is a non-starter and I will continue to oppose amnesty proposals while working towards a real solution that addresses the crisis at our borders.

We are a nation of immigrants and must remain welcoming to those who want to achieve the American Dream. However, it is vital that we enforce the law and ensure the safety and security of our nation. We must look to forward-thinking solutions to our problem with illegal immigration, not the failed policies of the past.

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