All 50 state legislatures introduced some sort of legislation in 2011 to address the growing problem of illegal immigration. At a time of economic uncertainty, we cannot continue to ignore the growing problems with illegal immigration because it strains our nation’s financial resources. The federal government must undertake comprehensive immigration reform legislation that secures our borders, addresses illegal immigrants already living in America, and reforms the process of becoming a legal immigrant.
In order to strengthen the E-Verify system, I cosponsored H.R. 2885, the Legal Workforce Act. This legislation aims to improve the E-Verify system and makes it mandatory for all U.S. employers. Over 250,000 American employers currently use E-Verify.
I am an original cosponsor of comprehensive legislation to reform our country’s immigration policies, H.R. 2000, the SAVE Act. The SAVE Act offers a three-part plan to drastically reduce illegal immigration, which includes a strict emphasis on border security, the verification of an employee’s legal status, and increased enforcement of existing laws. H.R. 2000 would hire 6,000 additional new Border Patrol agents and 1,150 new Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents. In addition, it provides the tools necessary to ensure the INS agents can successfully protect our borders, including additional vehicles, better infrastructure, new facilities, lighting units, weapons, and armor.
The SAVE Act also expands E-Verify and makes it available for use by every employer over a four-year period. This will benefit employers because they will be able to efficiently check whether or not their employees are legally authorized to work in the United States.
Arizona Immigration Law - SB 1070
The Arizona immigration law, SB 1070, requires police officers to verify the legal status of a detained person if the officer is suspicious that the person is in the United States illegally. The bill makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. The law would allow state and local law enforcement in Arizona to enforce federal immigration statutes.
The way I see it, Arizona is simply trying to enforce our basic immigration laws that make it illegal to be in our country without a visa or proper citizenship. With nearly 12 million illegal immigrants in this country, it is clear that our system is broken and the federal government needs to enact and enforce strict immigration laws in order to protect the citizens of our country. The problem of illegal immigration has gone on too long, and the Arizona law is an attempt from states to address a problem that the federal government has not.
In August 2011, I joined 74 of my colleagues in the Immigration Reform Caucus in writing President Obama to oppose his decision to no longer actively seek to deport illegal immigrants who don’t have a criminal record. While I support legal immigration, I do not think we should reward those who illegally reside in America, and I reject efforts to provide amnesty to these individuals. Because of this belief, I also voted against the DREAM Act.
I am also adamantly opposed to providing federal benefits to illegal aliens. During these tough economic times, it is imperative we cut spending and address illegal immigration to help address our deficit.