U.S. CONGRESSMAN BILL JOHNSON Proudly Representing Eastern and Southeastern Ohio


US Reps, Johnson, Gibbs: Secure borders first

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New Philadelphia, June 29, 2013 | comments
Both of Tuscarawas County’s representatives in Congress agree that securing America’s borders should be the top priority when it comes to immigration reform.
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New Philadelphia Times Reporter
By Jon Baker
Published June 29, 2013

Both of Tuscarawas County’s representatives in Congress agree that securing America’s borders should be the top priority when it comes to immigration reform.

“It makes no sense to talk about any other aspects of immigration if we’re not stopping the flow of illegal immigrants,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, who represents the southern part of the county.
“I’ve said this all along. We have to make sure the border is secure and the Visa Program is working,” said U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, who represents northern Tuscarawas County. 
“When the levee breaks and the flood water is coming in, you can’t clean up the water until the flood stops.”
On Thursday, the Senate passed legislation offering the hope of citizenship to millions of immigrants living illegally in America’s shadows. The bill also promises a military-style effort to secure the long-porous border with Mexico.
The bill, a priority for President Barack Obama, would amount to the most sweeping changes in decades to the nation’s immigration laws.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voted yes, while Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, voted no.
The bill’s prospects are highly uncertain in the Republican-led House, where conservatives generally oppose citizenship for immigrants living in the country unlawfully. Many also prefer a step-by-step approach rather than a comprehensive bill like the legislation the Senate passed Thursday on a bipartisan vote of 68-32.
Gibbs thinks the piece-by-piece approach is best. 
“The last time we did comprehensive immigration reform, it failed miserably,” he said. 
He added, “It didn’t work before. Why would you think it’s going to work now?”
He favors a fence on the border with Mexico. While the rate of entry of illegal immigrants is down, he said it’s still a problem. It’s also a national security concern, because terrorists, drugs and weapons could move across the border.
Both Gibbs and Johnson believe that legal immigration is necessary.
“I can understand why they want to come here,” Johnson said. “Like President Reagan said, we’re the shining city on the hill.”
With 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day and the nation’s birthrate not keeping pace, the United States has a shortage of physicians, scientists, engineers and mathematicians, he said. 
The country needs to attract new people, “not people taking American jobs, but to augment and fill in the gaps,” Johnson said.
But he does not favor amnesty for those who are here illegally.
There are 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, and about 7 million are in the workforce. “Not all of those 11 million are sitting there being a drain on the economy, but they’re not above the law,” Johnson said. “Amnesty is not an option I would consider.”
Migrant farm workers are important to the economy in Gibbs’ 7th District, which includes large produce farms in Huron County in north central Ohio.
“We definitely need an agriculture guest worker program that works,” he said. “A lot of those operations cannot harvest produce with machines. It’s not technologically possible.”
He noted that when the state of Georgia clamped down on migrant workers, that action left $350 million worth of produce rotting in the fields. 
The migrant workers are proficient at what they do, Gibbs said. Most come to the U.S. for about nine months and often leave their families behind in Latin America, giving them an incentive to return home when their work is done.
“These workers are not replacing or taking jobs from Americans,” he said. 
Congressional leaders have said they hope to have legislation passed by the end of the year.
“It’s anybody’s guess what’s going to happen,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of moving parts to this.”
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