One pressing issue that will come before the U.S. Congress this year is immigration reform. Like many in Louisiana, I am very concerned about the influx of illegal immigrants and am firmly opposed to immigration policies that harm American workers and leave our citizens at risk.
I certainly understand that people want to come to this country to provide a better future for their families. However, I strongly believe those immigrants who do come into the United States should arrive through legal channels.
Rest assured that one of my priorities in the U.S. Senate will be to curtail illegal immigration and increase our border security.
Failed border security was one of the many reasons cited by the 9/11 Commission for the events that happened that tragic day, and we have to take steps to strengthen our national security, both abroad and within our borders. Because of the threat posed to our country by international terrorists, it is essential that we control our borders.
Currently, U.S. Border Patrol agents are responsible for 6,000 miles of international land border with Canada and Mexico and nearly 2,000 miles of coastal border. In addition, they patrol more than 300 ports of entry into the United States, including land, sea and air. Since 1924, the Border Patrol has grown from a handful of mounted agents patrolling desolate areas along U.S. borders to todayís work force of more than 11,000 men and women. But we need to increase these numbers in light of the vast expanse of border area to cover.
Proper enforcement of our current immigration laws would help better protect our borders, but we need to go further than that and pass meaningful reform.
Immigration reform must also address the issue of amnesty, which I am firmly opposed to.
Amnesty sends the wrong message – that of a reward – to those who are and who have been evading our laws.
Rewarding illegal aliens by giving them amnesty will only precipitate the problem of illegal immigration by encouraging others to come here illegally with the expectation that they, too, would be given amnesty in the future.
It is also unfair to all of the legal immigrants who came to our country and followed all the rules to become citizens.
To help identify illegal immigrants already in our country, the House and Senate passed provisions of the REAL ID Act of 2005 that would implement regulations for state driverís license and identification document security standards and prevent terrorists from abusing the asylum laws of the United States.
While I served in the House of Representatives, I supported and voted for increased border patrol units and technology, a better tracking system for entry into our country, tougher visa requirements for foreign nationals seeking entrance, and stricter student visa requirements for those who want to study from abroad.
Although many pieces of legislation have been introduced on this subject, immigration reform has not yet been brought to the Senate floor.
I look forward to working and debating with my Senate colleagues to enact further fundamental immigration reforms.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts as we consider reforms to our current immigration policy or any other federal matter.
Please contact me at any of my state offices or in my Washington office by mail at U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, or by phone at 202-224-4623.
You can also reach me on the web at http://vitter.senate.gov.
David Vitter serves Louisiana in the United States Senate.