While America’s immigration system is broken, comprehensive immigration reform will not and should not happen in 2014. That is because President Obama and Democratic leaders interfered with a good faith bipartisan effort to reach an agreement in the House on immigration reform. Democratic leadership did not want a conservative immigration bill to come out of the House because they wanted the Senate immigration bill to be the only vehicle for immigration reform. In addition, the President continues to assert, both through words and actions, that he does not need Congress to act. Because of this, the vast majority of House Republicans do not trust that the President will enforce the parts of any immigration reform that he does not like, as he has already done with his own signature health care legislation. The President can buy a lot of goodwill this year by working with Congress to enforce the laws already on the books and – if he does that – we can tackle immigration reform in early 2015 when we’ll be in a better position to negotiate and get real results for the American people.
Our top priority for immigration reform should be securing our nation’s borders and enforcing the immigration laws that are already on the books. To do that, we must give our federal immigration enforcement officials the resources they need to enforce the laws we already have. We must also allow local law enforcement to work together with our federal immigration officers in order to provide the interior enforcement needs of our nation.
Beyond additional enforcement, reform must include modernizing our guest worker programs. Guest workers are vital to keep industries in America, and particularly in Idaho, competitive internationally. By providing a legal avenue for foreign workers to enter the United States, a guest worker program is critical to secure the border and eliminate illegal immigration.
The Senate comprehensive bill repeats the mistakes of the 1986 amnesty. I will oppose any legislation – such as the Senate bill – that is based on the philosophy of “legalization first, border security later.”