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Lately, immigration has been a main focus in Washington, D.C. A group of Republican and Democratic Senators, known as the Gang of 8, have taken it upon themselves to develop a comprehensive immigration package to address the 11 million illegal immigrants living in our country. Unfortunately, I cannot support their proposal in its current form and would vote against it if it were to make its way to the House.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a member of the Gang of 8 and one of the chief architects of the Senate immigration bill, recently told a Spanish news station that “First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border.” I have a tremendous amount of respect for Senator Rubio, but could not disagree with him more on this issue. Granting amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants in exchange for the promise of future border security is a terribly misguided approach.
The legislation being considered in the Senate contains a series of “border triggers” that gives authority to the Department of Homeland Security to determine when and how the border is deemed to be secured. In exchange, we would begin the process of legalizing a majority of these 11 million illegal immigrants.
But these triggers lack clear and meaningful metrics to ensure adequate enforcement. Rather, we would essentially trust DHS to set up and meet their own standards. With the DHS’s track record on border security, how can we be confident in the agency’s ability to accomplish something it has been unable to achieve in the past? I agree with Senator John Cornyn of Texas when he stated these measures are really just “talking points disguised as policy.”
To simply grant amnesty without securing the border is truly putting the cart before the horse. We tried that in 1986 and it did not work. Those efforts, however well intentioned, created a moral hazard that precipitated the illegal immigration problem we find ourselves in today. Think about it. We would once again be sending the message that if a person can just cross the border and hide out long enough, eventually he or she will be granted full citizenship.
Most can agree that our immigration system is outdated and broken and that we should pursue reasonable but fair reforms. But the senate plan would only exacerbate the problems we currently face with illegal immigration. The United States has always been a haven for individuals who seek to use their skills and determination to build a better life for themselves and their families. As a result, our nation is home to the world’s most talented workforce. We are a diverse group of innovators, entrepreneurs and risk takers and our accomplishments have not only brought forth prosperity here at home, but have helped to shape the world we live in today.
But while we have always been a country that welcomes immigrants with open arms, we have 11 million people in this county that broke the law by coming here illegally. Many of them find ways to collect food stamps, receive free health care and send their children to public schools without paying taxes. There are those that come here for criminal purposes, like selling drugs, and even others here seeking to do harm to America.
Of course many come to the United States simply looking for job opportunities. I understand these individuals want to work, pay their fair share and live out the American dream, but they have still broken the law. To simply grant them amnesty would not only show that we condone a disregard for the rule of law, but it would be unfair to the millions of folks who are trying to gain citizenship the right way.
Even if there is an argument to be made for providing a pathway to citizenship for those that can meet certain criteria like paying back taxes, holding a steady job, and not engaging in criminal activity, that cannot happen until one thing certain: Our borders are absolutely secure.