April 05, 2006

NEEDED: A RATIONAL APPROACH TO IMMIGRATION

Guest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

Our national character includes two abiding principles: one, we are a nation of immigrants; and two, we live under a peaceful system that upholds the rule of law. Within our borders, every culture and ethnicity in the world is represented. Almost all who live here can easily trace their ancestry to a foreign country, often with great pride. For most, this pride is integral to, not in conflict with our American citizenship. Our political and economic stability is rooted in a deep, very American respect for the rule of law. We enjoy peace and prosperity truly unparalleled in this world because we are a nation of laws.As early as 1790, the subject of immigration was the topic of public policy. In the intervening years, public attention to the subject has waxed and waned, but never disappeared. In the past few years, immigration has been on the minds of many, specifically illegal immigration. As you know, Congress is working to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Although the issue is multi-faceted and contentious, itâ??s extremely important that we move forward on rational reform this year. Many families, homeland security and our agriculture and service industries are waiting in the void that current policy cannot fill, to the detriment of all. I continue to believe that a rational immigration policy should be built on the following tenets:-The United States must commit the resources necessary to have the strongest border enforcement possible. Preservation of the integrity of our borders is essential to maintain our national character and security. We cannot usefully approach any other facet of the immigration debate until we adequately address our borders. -Once we properly address border control, we have the opportunity to operate a stable and manageable guest worker and immigration system. This system must ensure that those who come to our country to work temporarily or remain permanently do so within a system that protects their human rights and safety.-This system must not reward illegal entry into the U.S. Coming into the country illegally is breaking the law. Amnesty, in its various forms, falls into this category and I am opposed to it. Granting amnesty to those who have come to the U.S. illegally is unfair to American citizens and to those who have gone through established channels to legally immigrate to our country. It sends the message that the United States rewards illegal behavior, and we should not. -Any guest worker program must respect and uphold the first right of employment for American citizens. Idaho industries express a need for a feasible guest worker program through which foreign workers can be employed. At the same time, Idahoans are concerned with uncertain social and economic effects that illegal immigrants are having on our state and nation. Border security is paramount in this age of terrorism. Unwavering border enforcement sends a message worldwide that the United States is serious about protecting her citizens and serves as a deterrent to would-be terrorists, illegal drug traffickers and others who would threaten the safety of our homes and families. Sensible reform will also ensure that American workers and Idahoâ??s economy are protected and supported and maintain a safe, legal guest worker system. As Congress debates the issue of illegal immigration, I will continue to support a timely solution that both upholds our character as a nation of immigrants and calls for strict adherence to the rule of law that for over two hundred years has made us a prosperous and peaceful nation. WORD COUNT: 585