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Republicans Give Bush Mixed Reviews

Republican members of Congress are weighing in on President Bush’s immigration speech. So far it appears he’s getting mixed reviews. Posted here (in alphabetical order) are statements that I’ve been sent.

Rep. Gresham Barrett (R.-S.C.)

“Troops on the border will immediately help stop the flow of illegal immigrants and most importantly, increase our national security.  However, this is not a long-term solution.  We should not rule out other solutions like those passed by the House in December, including the construction of a fence. 

“The American people deserve to know their government is doing everything possible to secure the borders.  All options should be on the table.  I look forward to hearing what the President has to say this evening.”

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.)

“The president tonight outlined several steps that will help secure the border.  The House looks forward to working with him to implement border security and internal enforcement measures first.   

“While I appreciate the president’s willingness to tackle big problems, I have real concerns about moving forward with a guest worker program or a plan to address those currently in the United States illegally until we have adequately addressed our serious border security problems.”

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R.-Ohio)

“The most important priority for the American people on immigration is securing our borders.  Providing extra resources and extra security personnel on our borders in an effort to stop illegal immigration is an important initiative, and I applaud the President’s commitment to making our borders more secure.  We must look at every available step to strengthen federal and state border security partnerships in order to find a permanent solution to the problem of illegal immigration.

“House Republicans have responded to the concerns of the American people by passing a strong border security bill that reflects our commitment to re-establishing basic respect for our immigration laws and sealing our border against illegal entry.  If the Senate passes an immigration bill, I’m committed to working with Chairman Sensenbrenner and House Republicans to ensure we make border security our first priority and meet our commitments to the American people.”

Sen. Larry Craig (R.-Idaho)

“For any immigration reform to work, our borders must first be secured,” Craig said.  “For years, I have worked to beef up the resources at the border, and over the last decade, Congress has tripled the number of agents enforcing border and immigration laws.  This has helped, but illegal immigration persists.  Bringing the resources of the National Guard to bear will free up the Border Patrol and help them be more effective. 

“While Congress works on more permanent solutions, including comprehensive immigration reform, I am pleased that the President is taking this bold step, which many of us have been urging, and I will be working with other senators to provide the support this initiative requires.”

Rep. Jeff Flake (R.-Ariz.)

“President Bush deserves credit for his willingness to take on a difficult issue like immigration reform.”

“President Bush is absolutely right that immigration reform must be three-pronged: increased enforcement, a temporary worker program, and a humane, realistic approach for dealing with the illegal immigrant population currently in the U.S.

“Obviously, simply addressing the enforcement side of the issue might be more politically expedient, but you have to salute President Bush for recognizing that we can’t solve the problem without a temporary worker program and insisting that Congress include one as we debate an immigration reform bill.”

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.)

“Tonight, President Bush has once again demonstrated his commitment to securing our borders.

“Utilizing the National Guard is an effective, short-term stopgap to immediately strengthen border security as long-range reforms begin to take effect.

“As I’ve maintained from the beginning of this debate, secure borders must be the cornerstone of any comprehensive immigration reform plan.  In the last eight months, the Senate has approved nearly $12 billion to bolster security along our borders, hire additional border patrol agents and increase the number of detention beds. 

“I thank the President for his strong leadership on this issue and look forward to a thoughtful debate in the Senate this week.”

Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa)

“Sovereign nations must define their borders, and if we can’t enforce our borders, then a military presence is necessary. Securing our borders is one component of an overall comprehensive immigration policy, which must include enforcing our borders, constructing a fence, compelling employers to hire legal workers, and removing the jobs and birthright magnets that attract illegal aliens here in the first place.”

“Americans are fed up with a government that does not enforce our laws. Although there were two very well-publicized employer raids recently, the government did not sanction one employer in 2004 for hiring illegal aliens.  Americans are fed up with the fact that American jobs are given to illegal aliens who will work dirt cheap. They are fed up with our porous borders that leave gaping holes in our national security.  I believe the President and the Senate are mistaken if they decide to allow millions of people here to be rewarded with amnesty for breaking the law.

“Illegal immigration and the problems that come with it – crime, human and drug smuggling – will not go away simply by opening up the doors and saying “come on in!” History has shown no indication that illegal immigration will subside until everyone from there who wants to come here is here.

“This country, like every sovereign nation, has its own culture. Americans expect new immigrants to learn English to fully assimilate into our society and share our culture. When we can help them assimilate, law-abiding immigrants to this country will be able to fully pursue the American dream.”

House Republican Conference Vice Chairman Jack Kingston (R.-Ga.)

“The President has announced a five point comprehensive plan on immigration consisting of border security, temporary guest worker program, interior enforcement, deportation and assimilation,” Kingston said.  “While there are some blanks to fill in, this is a good step and I’m glad to see that President Bush is getting in the game.”

“Illegal immigration is the number one issue with Americans today and the statistics show why,” Kingston continued.  “Last year alone, the U.S. Border Patrol arrested almost 1.2 million people – the majority of who were from Mexico – and estimated that another 500,000 evaded capture.  In Georgia, there are an estimated 300,000 illegal immigrants which gives us the seventh largest illegal immigration population in the United States.”

“With tonight’s speech we now have the President saying that he is going to be part of this debate.  We need a good bicameral, bipartisan approach to illegal immigration and I am confident we will achieve it.”

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R.-N.C.)

“Illegal immigration threatens our national security and strains our healthcare facilities, schools and social services.  President Bush made one step forward and one step backward during tonight’s address.  I am encouraged by his plan to increase our security by positioning National Guard troops on the border.  This will provide essential – but temporary – security along our porous and vulnerable borders.  The better alternative is to enact a comprehensive border security program by constructing fences, bolstering our border patrols and improving our surveillance capabilities.”

“I strongly disagree with the President’s call for a guest worker program.  A guest worker program is nothing more than amnesty wearing make-up – it’s easier to look at, but just as ugly underneath.  The simple truth is that is that if you break the law to come to this country, you will not respect it once you’re here.”    

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (R.-Ohio)

“I was encouraged by the President’s address tonight.  Illegal immigration is a border security issue, a homeland security issue and a national security issue.  First and foremost we need to secure the border, and I am pleased to hear the President outline ideas that will do just that.

“While the President’s efforts to shore up our borders are important, illegal immigration impacts every facet of our society – security, education, social services, and health care.  It is therefore of profound importance to America that Congress put partisan politics aside to move quickly, yet thoughtfully, and pass a final reform package.”

House Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Pence (R.-Ind.)

“A nation without borders is not a nation. Tonight the President of the United States has reaffirmed our nation’s commitment to take all necessary measures to achieve border security and I welcome his strong leadership.”

Rep. Joe Wilson (R.-S.C.)

“Throughout our lives, we’ve always heard that actions speak louder than words.  America can have the strongest immigration policies in the world, but until our laws are carried out with the strength of our intentions, millions of people will continue to illegally stream across our borders. 

“Tonight, President Bush demonstrated his commitment to securing our country.  By placing thousands of National Guard troops on our borders, he will help decrease illegal immigration, stop drug trafficking, and prevent terrorism.  As a former Guardsman, I know our troops are well prepared to assist temporarily with this critical mission.  I appreciate President Bush’s strong leadership on this issue and will continue to work with him to find a long-term solution to securing America’s borders.”

Written By

Mr. Bluey, a contributing editor to Human Events, is director of the Center for Media & Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation. He maintains a blog at RobertBluey.com.

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