My original letter:
I am writing to most strongly urge you to oppose any bill granting amnesty to illegal immigrants and not holding those who help illegal immigrants accountable for their crimes. My wife and I see illegal immigration as the single greatest threat to America today, and the current legislation being proposed is a step in the wrong direction. Politicians seem to be forgetting that illegal immigration is a crime, and those who commit it are criminals. Illegal immigrants are not "guests", "migrants", or any other politically correct term. They are criminals who have invaded our country illegally and who cause great harm to our security and economy.
Any legislation that does not hold these criminals and those who help them 100% accountable is a slap in the face of every immigrant who came to this country legally and worked long and hard to earn the right to call themselves American.
Senator, I once again urge you to accept nothing but a tough stance on illegal immigrants.
Mr. and Mrs. Tanerite
Dear Mr. Tanerite:
Thank you for contacting me with your support for homeland security enhancement and comprehensive immigration reform. I appreciate hearing from you and would like to respond to your concerns.
Like you, I strongly believe that one way to safeguard our homeland and halt the flow of illegal immigrants is to work tirelessly to secure our borders. On October 28, 2005, President George W. Bush signed into law the Homeland Security Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2006 (P.L. 109-90), which includes more than $30 billion to protect our homeland. It specifically sets aside $2.3 billion for the Border Patrol to improve and expand its stations, to install and improve fencing, lighting, and vehicle barriers along the border, and to acquire technologies, such as portable imaging machines, sensors and automated targeting systems that focus on high-risk travelers and goods. However, this is just a start, as Congress begins to review the President's recently submitted fiscal year 2007 budget request. Please know, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure substantial additional resources are made available to the Department of Homeland Security and the Border Patrol.
There were approximately four million illegal immigrants living in the United States, when Congress last addressed the issue of comprehensive immigration reform in 1986. Today, it is estimated there are more than 11 million. Those immigrants who enter our country illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of law. We live in a time where terrorists are challenging our borders, and we simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked. Americans are right to demand better border security and better enforcement of immigration law.
Further, American employers need to take responsibility when determining the immigration status of individuals they hire. Too often illegal immigrants attempt to enter the United States chasing the promise of a job, only to risk survival and face even death crossing the desert or never find a job at all. In the interest of cheap labor, unscrupulous employers look the other way when employees provide fraudulent citizenship documents. This hurts both American workers and immigrants whose sole aim is to work hard and get ahead. It is imperative that we implement a simple, fool-proof and mandatory mechanism for all employers to check the legal status of new hires.
However, I believe to further protect our nation, we must contend with scores of illegal immigrants living and working within our borders without our knowing their identity or background. That is why we need to develop a guest-worker program that will replace the flow of illegals with a regulated stream of legal immigrants who enter the United States after a series of checks. This would enhance our nation's security by protecting our citizens from terrorists that may exploit the openness of our society.
If we hope to bring the 11 million undocumented immigrants out into the open, we must give them a reason. This means granting those with jobs interim legal status to work with the opportunity, after paying penalties and without amnesty to eventually earn citizenship. We can do this by imposing a hefty fine for having illegally entered out country, and by forcing the undocumented to go to the back of the line in their pursuit of citizenship. The interim status should only apply to those already here, so as to not open the door for others.
We cannot claim to have dealt with the problems of illegal immigration if we ignore the illegal resident population or pretend that they will leave voluntarily. Some of the proposed ideas in Congress provide a temporary legal status and call for deportation, but fail to answer how the government would successfully deport this large amount of people. If temporary legal status is granted, but the policy says these immigrants are never good enough to become Americans, then the policy makes little sense. However, without solving the porous border or incentive problem the population of illegals will only grow.
Successful, comprehensive immigration reform can be achieved by combining strong border control legislation with a realistic workplace and an earned citizenship program. These three pillars of immigration reform are found in three separate pieces of legislation I have cosponsored -- the Strengthening America’s Security Act (S. 1916), the Employment Verification Act (S. 1917), and the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act (S. 1033). Please know that, I will work with my Senate colleagues to ensure that the ideas included in these important pieces of legislation are incorporated into the immigration reform process.
Again, thank you for sharing your views. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me. In addition, for more information about issues and activities important to Florida, please sign up for my weekly newsletter at http://martinez.senate.gov.
United States Senator