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“One of the most basic responsibilities of any country’s government is to manage immigration in ways that promote the nation’s interests and helps keep it safe.”

America is a nation of immigrants, and a nation of laws.  It is clear that our immigration system is broken and that reform is vital to our country’s national security and economic future.  But a rush to pass immigration reform just for the sake of doing so would be foolish. So the House will not be taking up the massive, comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate.   For any proposal to pass the House, it will have to make America stronger and safer.

Congressman Thornberry discusses possibilities for immigration reform

The President’s Immigration Policy

In 2012, the President announced that his Administration will bypass Congress to make changes to the nation's immigration policy.  He has done this again in August 2013.

No one can deny that deciding what to do with children who were brought to this country illegally is a difficult problem.  But it is wrong for the President to decide on his own which of our laws he will enforce and which laws he will not enforce.  The Administration has now announced that it will not enforce the law with respect to legal guardians or parents of the children they brought here illegally.

Even in an election year, our country is governed by the rule of law, not the arbitrary decisions of anyone -- including the President.  By taking this action, he has made it more difficult for us to find a sensible agreement to our immigration issues, and he has once again tried to divide the country for his political gain.

New Immigration Reform Laws

The Senate passed its version of immigration reform on June 27, 2013.  The House will not be taking up the massive, comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate.   For any proposal to pass the House, it will have to make America stronger and safer.  I believe it will likely focus on border security, improved enforcement of laws, a reasonable guest worker program, and reforms to the legal immigration system.  Other serious issues exist, but we do not have to solve everything at once.  Taking each of these issues and working to find a solution that is in the best, long-term interest of the nation is a better approach.

I object to blanket amnesty.  We are a nation of immigrants, and we are also a nation of laws.  We do have to decide how to deal with the 10 to 12 million people who are already in the U.S. illegally in a way that makes sense.   Part of the serious criticism some of us have had of the Obama Administration’s handling of immigration over the last five years is its decision to selectively enforce the law, whether based on political calculations or just incompetence.  Reforming our immigration laws will make enforcement, regardless of the Administration’s attempts around it, possible.  

A Nation of Immigrants and Laws

America is a nation of immigrants, and we also are a nation of laws.  The safety of our nation is dependent upon us doing a better job of controlling who and what crosses our borders.  Unfortunately, the situation at our borders has deteriorated to a dangerous level with much violence. 

I believe that we should have a way for people to come to this country legally in order to work.  But I have real concerns if we reward those who have violated our laws at the expense of those who have waited patiently in their home country and tried to follow our laws.

Common Sense Solutions

Our challenge is to deal in a fair, common sense, and compassionate way with the many issues raised by our border security and immigration policies.  A comprehensive solution must address at least these four issues:

  1. Effective border security and interior enforcement;
  2. Fixing our legal immigration system to attract and keep highly skilled and highly trained immigrants in the U.S. workforce;
  3. The need for a guest worker program for those who want to come here for a limited time to work;
  4. Addressing what happens to the approximately 12 million people who are already here illegally in a way that is fair to everyone and does not encourage more illegal immigration.

None of this discussion on other issues is relevant, though, unless we can control the border.

Securing our borders

Taking control of our border is a crucial first step towards immigration reform. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, knowing who and what is coming across our border is vital to our national security. I support measures to secure our expansive and porous border, such as fencing and surveillance technology to aid our border security agents.

Guest Worker Programs

Many immigrants, both legal and illegal, play a key role in our economy. Many businesses count on their participation in order to be successful. 

I believe that we need some kind of new guest worker program, but I do not think that it is right to reward those who violate our laws by entering illegally or staying here illegally.  The same goes for those employing people illegally and falsifying Social Security numbers.  Additionally, there are many people who have been trying to follow the law, waiting patiently in their home country to have their application considered, and we should be fair to them.

There has been some progress on guest worker programs in the last several months, but much more needs to be accomplished. In addition, the federal government must prove itself capable of handling the technological and process challenges which interior enforcement and a guest worker program would pose.

It is a complex debate, and all proposals should be considered. However, we must be cautious to not make any decisions that could put additional economic strain on our country in these uncertain economic times.  Any reform should help make our nation stronger and better able to face the challenges of the future.

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