As the illegal immigration debate rages on, some advocates are turning to a “guest worker” or “amnesty” plan in order to gain control. Equating illegal immigration with legal immigration is the last thing we should do if we hope to get our border crisis under control. Flying the white flag on this issue rewards lawbreaking and insults those who went through legal channels and respected the law in their bid to enter the United States.
As a result of years of benign neglect, our immigration polices have become laughable and the burden placed on our social services remains immense. We spend billions of dollars on our hospitals, schools, and other government programs supporting illegal aliens. This is unsustainable and it is a misuse of taxpayer dollars.
Tackling this issue is no easy task. The starting point, however, must be better secured borders and “enforcement first” policies. This would help improve national security and lessen the strain on social services.
In a post-9/11 world, the United States simply cannot allow people to enter the country illegally indiscriminately. It is astonishing that our system prohibits local law enforcement from arresting illegal aliens and only deports an illegal alien who has committed a DUI after the third offense. To correct this, in December 2005 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act (H.R. 4437), the most expansive immigration legislation in years.
Last year’s Minuteman Project proves that securing the border is easier said than done, and therefore, Congress must give border patrol agents and local law enforcement officers all the tools they need to accomplish this task. To that extent, I added a provision to H.R. 4437 to prevent all illegal border crossings by any means necessary by a date certain, 18 months of the bill’s enactment. To prove the seriousness of the matter, the United States must have complete operational control of its borders in a reasonable time frame.
The bill would also put an end to the backwards policy of “catch and release.” Amazingly, those caught crossing our borders illegally now are given a hearing date to return to court — an order most often ignored. Under this new law, those caught illegally entering the United States would be automatically returned to their home country. This is simply common sense.
There are many facets to the illegal immigration crisis, and the recently passed immigration bill addresses both the supply side and demand side of the equation. In terms of demand, a mandatory employer verification system is incorporated into the bill. Now, employers will be able to check a database in real time to determine an employee’s legal status. This information allows for appropriate accountability under the law.
There is still more to be done. In fact, Congress should remove the “Anchor Baby” loophole in our laws to require at least one parent of a child born in America to be a citizen or here legally in order for the child to automatically become a citizen. But H.R. 4437 is a good start, and the Senate should be encouraged to take up the House bill.
Benign neglect is no policy at all. Ignoring the problem has led to consequences that are undesirable and challenging. The initiatives we have taken to coordinate the efforts of the federal government with local governments are providing a great foundation upon which to build. These common-sense reforms should not be controversial; they are crucial to our national security and the rule of law in America.