Our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. When Congress last passed amnesty legislation in 1986, the American people were promised that the border would be secured. That was 28 years ago, and our land, sea and air borders are far from meeting the promises that were made then.
In 1996 Congress passed immigration reform legislation including border security provisions. In the aftermath of 9-11, the Congress approved recommendations from the 9-11 Commission to secure our border, including an exit-entry system, 700 miles of border fence and other provisions. You may recall that all of the 19 terrorists had entered the U.S. on valid visas.
As of today, 28 years after the promise of secure borders, the borders are still not secure. Only 40 of the 700 miles of fence have been constructed. And, there is still no entry-exit system to make sure that those granted entry to the U.S. actually leave when they are required to do so under the terms of their visa.
The Senate immigration bill fails to address the fundamental problem, which is unsecured borders and lack of enforcement. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office says the Senate bill will lead to another 5 million illegal immigrants by 2023. That not fair to the millions of American out of work today, and it’s not fair to millions of people in line to immigrate to the U.S. legally.
Today, more than 20 million Americans are still looking for work, as they are either unemployed or underemployed. Millions more Americans have simply left the workforce having given up on finding a job. The summer of 2013 saw the lowest number of 16-19 years olds with summer jobs – less than one in three were able to find summertime work. While the overall unemployment rate was over 7% in August 2013, unemployment was 13% in the African American community and 9.2% among Hispanics.
I believe that we have an obligation to see that these individuals can find employment and begin to live the American dream before allowing millions of additional individuals to enter the workforce to compete with them for these limited jobs. This is particularly important given the anemic economic recovery that has fallen far short of what is needed to build a strong America.
We are the most welcoming nation in the world welcoming nearly a million new Americans each year as they legally immigrate to the U.S. each year.