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

Opinion Pieces

Without Border Security, ‘Immigration Reform’ is Useless

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Washington, August 12, 2013 | comments
"Securing our southern border should not require a 2,000 page bill."
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America’s immigration system is broken.  With a nearly $17 trillion national debt, a waiting list of 4.4 million potential immigrants waiting to enter our country legally, an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States now, and terrorists continuing to plot to strike us on our home soil, it is critically important that Congress, and this administration, secure our borders.

It is often said, correctly, that America is a nation of immigrants.  Most of our family trees have deep roots in other countries, and on other continents.  Our unifying bond is that our forefathers came to America in search of a better life.  They arrived here looking for the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams – dreams that had been difficult, if not impossible, to realize in the lands they left behind.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled massed yearning to breathe free” reads part of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty that so many immigrants passed by on their way to Ellis Island.  For decades – for centuries – immigrants from all over the world would enter America legally, and begin assimilating into American society, learning to speak English, working, paying taxes, and raising families which made our nation and our culture stronger, richer, and more vibrant.

Yet today, there are 11 million people in the U.S. who are here illegally.  Many have come to America to help their families.  Many have come to work, and fill jobs that it is said Americans will not do.  But these 11 million people live in the shadows, they don’t pay federal income taxes, their children receive public education, welfare and healthcare, and we don’t know who they are.  But we know they’ve broken our immigration laws to get here.

Securing our southern border should not require a 2,000 page bill.  Our border security would be greatly improved if the Obama Administration would simply enforce laws already on the books.  The “Secure Fence Act” signed by President George W. Bush in 2006 has not been fully implemented.  Among other actions, this law requires 700 miles of additional fencing to be built, and calls for the utilization of cameras, sensors, and unmanned aerial vehicles to protect our border.  I’m confident that the nation that gave birth to flight, the automobile, won two World Wars and the Cold War, and put a man on the moon can figure this out.

In addition to building the fencing and deploying the technology necessary along our southern border, the federal government should work closely with borderstates to ensure that state and local law enforcement in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas have everything they need to do their jobs.  As is too often the case, local and state law enforcement are sometimes the first (and only) defense along the border.

There has been a lot of talk by some about providing amnesty to illegal immigrants, and developing a “comprehensive” immigration policy to fix this problem.  In my view, providing amnesty to those who’ve broken our laws is wrong.  Period.  And before Washington discusses any changes to the visa waiver program, temporary workers program, or anything else, we must secure the border.  Without border security, ‘immigration reform’ is useless.

With 4.4 million people from all over the world waiting patiently in line to enter America legally, we cannot reward those who’ve broken the law to get here.  It is important that we remain a nation that welcomes those from all over the world who embrace American values, want to build their dreams here, and make America stronger through their talents and their hard work.   But, we cannot sit idly by and continue to watch people from other nations flaunt our immigration laws, and then capitulate to their demands – or the demands of some politicians in Washington who view providing amnesty to illegal immigrants as a windfall for their political agenda.

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