May 25, 2006

America Deserves Better Immigration Legislation

Crapo votes against Senate amnesty bill

Washington, DC -- Idaho Senator Mike Crapo voted against S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, in the Senate today, citing concerns with incentives for further illegal immigration, high costs, and the substantial burden that the legislation would place on hard-working Americans to fund the bill. â??It is understandable why many would want to immigrate to America,â?? Crapo said. â??America is a land of opportunity and freedom and represents those ideals to many throughout the world. However, in order to maintain the strength of this country, we must uphold our laws. I have been very concerned about the amnesty provisions included in this measure and ultimately could not support the bill, even though there are some good provisions in it.â??â??It is a contradiction to try to curb illegal immigration by providing a path to citizenship for millions of people who entered the country illegally,â?? said Crapo. â??Granting amnesty instead rewards those who broke the law at the expense of those who are attempting to enter our country through legal channels. This will only create incentives for further illegal immigration.â??The legislation, which passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 62 to 36, permits all illegal immigrants and future foreign workers who enroll in the temporary worker program to be placed on a pathway to citizenship. Additionally, it provides exemption from immigration caps to the spouses and children of those in the U.S. illegally who would be eligible for permanent residency under the legislation.â??A temporary worker program ought to be focused on employment, and not an expedited path to citizenship,â?? explained Crapo. â??Guest workers should be allowed to apply for citizenship under our existing immigration laws; however, they should be required to get in line with everyone else who has followed the law.â?? Crapo supported an amendment to define the temporary worker visa in the bill as an access to employment in the United States, not permanent residence or citizenship. However, the amendment failed to get the votes necessary to be added to the bill.Additionally, the legislation would substantially increase the federal deficit. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate bill will increase federal spending by $54 billion in the first ten years alone. â??As American families are dealing with high fuel prices and other costs, I could not vote for such a drastic burden on taxpayers that would add billions of dollars to a huge federal deficit,â?? said Crapo. â??This has to be done a better way.â??Senate budget rules provide for any member to challenge legislation that increases federal spending by $5 billion in any 10-year period beginning in 2016. Crapo supported Senator Wayne Allardâ??s (R-Colorado) unsuccessful budget point of order challenge to the immigration legislation.Crapo maintains that the backbone of solid immigration policy is securing the nationâ??s borders. He supported an amendment offered by Senator John Ensign (R-Nevada) to authorize President Bushâ??s plan to utilize National Guard troops at the border and an amendment offered by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) to provide 370 miles of border fencing. Both amendments passed. These measures would be added to the numerous resources authorized in the bill to secure the land borders, and enforce internal immigration laws. Crapo supports these measures, but does not want to see them undermined by amnesty provisions also in the legislation.Additionally, Crapo was an original co-sponsor of the Northern Border Prosecution Initiative (NBPI), which is included in S. 2611. The Initiative, modeled after the successful Southwest Border Prosecution Initiative, provides reimbursements to state and local governments along the northern border for costs these jurisdictions incur in disposing of federally initiated/referred cases. â??The NBPI will be a valuable resource to law enforcement officials in North Idaho, and I am pleased that it was included in the legislation,â?? Crapo said.Crapo supports a workable guest worker program that ensures Americans have the first right to available jobs and provides employers with a reliable, legal system to employ guest workers. Such a system can provide a temporary legal status for those currently in the U.S., but the program should not include a path to citizenship and should focus on employment. â??There has been a lot of talk about the need to secure our borders,â?? said Crapo. â??It is time that the talk ends, and the work to accomplish this task begins. In order to get control of the illegal immigration situation, illegal entry into our country must be stopped. Getting our borders under control will better enable a workable guest worker program.â??The Senate has debated the immigration bill for the past two weeks. In total, 44 amendments have been offered, with 27 receiving Senate approval. Approximately nine days of debate have been spent on the measure in the last two weeks.â??Unfortunately, several amendments that would better shape this legislation into something more reasonable for this nation have been defeated throughout this process,â?? Crapo concluded. â??I am hopeful that House and Senate conference on the bill will produce a better crafted bill. The bottom line is we could do it better, and we should do it better. This nation deserves more.â??The measure now moves into a conference committee with H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives on December 16, 2005.FOR INTERESTED MEDIA: A radio actuality is available by calling 1-800-545-1267. Press 327 at any time during or after the greeting and instructions. You can also access the actuality through the Internet at http://src.senate.gov/radio/.