Responsible Immigration Reform Must Be Addressed
May 4, 2010 -
By Congressman Michael Turner
In 2007, the United States Senate twice considered, and failed to pass, a comprehensive overhaul of our country’s immigration laws (S. 1348/S. 1369). In 2009, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 9), and has suggested that the Senate may once again take the lead on the passage of immigration reform legislation before the 111th Congress completes its work for the year. Most Americans would agree that our immigration system is in need of reform. As you know, I do not support amnesty. I support an immigration policy that strengthens our borders, protects legal immigration, and keeps our citizens safe.
We must secure our borders and enforce existing laws. In 2006, I voted to authorize the construction of a 700-mile fence to secure the Southwestern border that includes the use of state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, infrared cameras, and unmanned aerial vehicles. According to the Department of Homeland Security, roughly 670 miles of pedestrian and vehicle fencing along the Southwestern border have been completed. While I am in favor of strengthening laws against illegal immigration, I strongly support the rights of immigrants who enter our country through legal channels and abide by the rule of law while here. I do not support amnesty for those who have come here unlawfully. To provide amnesty to those who have knowingly broken our laws is unfair to the millions of immigrants who have followed the rules and come to our nation legally.
We must also take steps to protect American workers and businesses by improving employment verification procedures. I am a cosponsor of the SAVE (Secure America through Verification and Enforcement) Act, a bipartisan immigration reform and border security measure. The SAVE Act (HR 3308) requires that all businesses use the E-Verify program to confirm the legal residency of its employees. “E-Verify” is an electronic employment eligibility verification system that is currently used on a voluntary basis by over 130,000 employers. It is an inexpensive and useful tool that allows employers to quickly verify the employment eligibility status of newly hired employees. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 97 percent of employees screened using E-Verify “are automatically confirmed as work authorized either instantly or within 24 hours.”
The SAVE Act would also add 6,000 Border Patrol agents between 2010 and 2014 plus an additional 1,150 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, and expands detention facilities to house illegal aliens detained by immigration officials. Additionally, the SAVE Act calls for enhanced cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of the Treasury to help fight identity theft. It authorizes these agencies to work together to identify individuals falsely using another person’s Social Security number.
Securing our borders and stopping illegal immigration is a matter of national security. I look forward to working with my House colleagues on meaningful immigration reforms that will keep Americans safe, protect legal immigration, and provide no amnesty for those who have entered our country illegally.