I voted no on the Gang of Eight’s recent immigration reform bill for one reason–it did not include border security first.
Any immigration reform plan that does not include border security is not real reform, precisely because any plan that does not increase security insures that we will revisit this problem again in the future.
Right now we have a situation where people are rushing to our southern border because our current policy makes us a beacon for illegal immigration. Our hearts go out to these people, many of whom just want what’s best for themselves and their families.
President Obama now threatens to enact immigration reform by executive fiat. He says he’s got his phone and his pen and he will use them. If he takes his royal pen in hand and beckons the world to come across our borders without adequate border security, it will be a disaster for the country, and it will be the death knell for any meaningful bipartisan immigration reform.
Thanks to our current system, we have no way to properly accommodate people who want to come to this country to work. This is a failure of Washington, not the average American and certainly not would-be immigrants.
Our problem now is that we have 12 million illegal immigrants in this country. If steps are not taken to secure our border, 12 million more will come illegally. This is unacceptable. Any plan that encourages more illegal immigration is no plan at all.
But we also shouldn’t leave 12 million people in limbo.
My “Trust But Verify Act” would’ve made immigration reform possible only once Congress voted on the efficiency of our border security every year for five years, completed a double-layered border fence, and created two new national security visa screening programs.
My plan would have also prevented the Obama Administration from trying to create national ID cards. America has never been a “papers please” country, and it never should be. Illegal immigration or any other issue should never trump our personal privacy rights and other individual liberties that have always made our country one of the freest on earth.
My plan would have attached restrictions to federal welfare and federal motor voter money to require states to actively discover and prevent guest workers from receiving welfare or voting.
My amendment would have given us substantive immigration reform that conservative Republicans could’ve also agreed to because it addressed border security first. It was a win-win for all involved.
Yet, it was defeated 37-61.
While Washington cannot get its act together, I will not stop pursuing much needed reform. We need a system that expands legal immigration and our work visa program. The Gang of Eight bill actually decreased the number of visas for agricultural workers. Any plan that sets worker visas at a level less than what the market demands is a recipe for illegal immigration.
Most conservatives have no problem with legal immigration, but most immigrants do–our current system is far too difficult to navigate.
The fact that it is so difficult for foreign workers to obtain a work visa has been a primary reason illegal immigration has gotten so out of control. I had a plan that would make our visa program finally work. We desperately need a visa program that works.
But the Democrats shot down that idea too.
The current system makes the U.S. a beacon for illegal immigrants, who rush to our borders because they believe nothing will be done. To date, they have been right. Congress continues to sit on its hands, content to repeat the mistakes of the past through horrible legislation–and then points fingers at those of us who do want immigration reform but do not want to make things worse with even worse legislation.
We need more legal immigration and less illegal immigration, but the key to this equation is to make it far easier to immigrate to the United States than it is today.
But it must be done in a responsible way.
Any plan that does not fix our borders first is really no reform at all, just another refusal by Washington to fix the problem.
It’s time to fix it.