Illegal immigration is yet another example of how Washington is failing us by refusing to act on a constructive solution. When Pat Roberts first went to work in Washington there were under 1 million undocumented workers in the country. Today, we have 11 million. Clearly, for many of our current elected leaders, the only thing they want to do about illegal immigration is grandstand and use it to generate voter support without any real intention of doing anything constructive to solve the problem.
For us to deal with our current immigration system, we have to adopt a policy that’s tough, practical and fair. By tough, I mean we need to secure our borders. It’s something that we’ve been working on, but we’re not there yet. We’ve dramatically increased the number of security agents that we have on the border over the last 10 years – from roughly 10,500 agents in 2004 when the Department of Homeland Security was formed to more than 21,000 today. We need to continue the commitment to the number of agents there. We also need to re-evaluate the use of technology at the border and determine whether or not recent advances in technology can help us tighten our borders.
Our policy must be practical. It’s just not practical to say that we’re going to find and send back to other countries 11 million undocumented people. We’ve got whole industries in Kansas that would go away if we attempted to introduce such an unworkable policy. Towns like Dodge City and Garden City and much of the agricultural community in Kansas would be absolutely devastated.
Finally, our policy must also be fair to taxpayers. The 11 million undocumented individuals in America should be required to register with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by a certain date, pay a fine or perform community service as an acknowledgment that they’ve broken the law, hold down a job, pay taxes, and obey our laws, and ultimately, at that point, if they want to get in line and apply for citizenship, they should be able to do so. Once we’ve done that, we should fully implement the e-verify system and hold employers accountable for hiring undocumented workers who have not registered with ICE.
The current migration from Central America of unaccompanied minors to the United States is a tragedy that we need to stop at its source. We should engage in aggressive public relations campaigns in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to make it clear that children sent across the US border will be detained and ultimately sent home. Not making that message clear only encourages young people from those countries to make the treacherous trip through Mexico, thereby jeopardizing their lives.
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