5 Immigration Questions for Your Congressman
by Gerren McHam, Heritage Foundation, August 7, 2013
During the August congressional recess, a pro-amnesty coalition of business and union interests is putting the squeeze on members of the House of Representatives to pass a “comprehensive immigration reform” bill similar to the Senate-passed monstrosity. But hard-working Americans also have a voice and can speak up in town halls with House members while they’re in the districts. Here are five questions to remind them of the wisdom and importance of taking a step-by-step approach to immigration reform.
1. How can we afford an amnesty for illegal immigrants?
We can’t. Over their lifetimes, the estimated 11.5 million illegal immigrants would cost federal, state, and local taxpayers trillions of dollars, because they will consume significantly more in government benefits and services than they pay in taxes. Amnesty for millions of predominantly low-skilled illegal immigrants also will depress wages for low-skilled Americans and make a tough job market more difficult.
2. If illegal immigrants win amnesty, how is that fair to the 4.5 million who are waiting to enter the United States legally?
It isn’t fair. America prides itself on the rule of law. As Americans, we should not allow those who break our laws to be rewarded—especially at the expense of those who are abiding by the rules. Rather than adequately streamlining our legalization system, some in Congress are pushing a new “path to citizenship” that grants amnesty to those who broke the law.
3. Can we ensure that a House-passed immigration bill doesn’t become a vehicle, in a deal with the Senate, for blanket amnesty?
No, we can’t. With massive costs to taxpayers and carve-outs for special interests, the Senate-passed bill eerily resembles Obamacare in its unnecessary complexity. Even House members who correctly view the Senate’s “comprehensive” bill as a failed approach must be cognizant of the push to use any House-passed measure as a means to enact the Senate provisions. If conversations begin between the House and Senate on a compromise, major sections of the Senate bill—including amnesty—will be part of that deal.
4. Does Congress need to pass new legislation to secure the border and strengthen interior enforcement?
No. Current laws can be used to settle our border security and interior enforcement problems. The reason those laws aren’t working is simple: We aren’t enforcing them. By way of executive orders and selective enforcement, the Obama Administration has undermined efforts to fix our system and placed unwarranted burdens on the agents in charge of carrying out these laws.
5. Is there any guarantee that we won’t face this problem again with millions of new illegal immigrants in the future?
No. We should keep a close eye on all proposals. In 1986, proponents of “reform” promised the American people that if Congress passed an amnesty-first immigration bill, we wouldn’t have to go through this debate again. We were told to trust Congress to put together an amnesty bill that would be fair and prevent illegal immigration once and for all. Fast forward to now, and we’re experiencing the same problems but on a larger scale. If Congress doesn’tsecure the border first to stop the flow of illegal immigration and also enforce our laws, we will find ourselves back in the same situation. The Congressional Budget Office projected that if it the Senate bill became law, millions of new illegal immigrants would be here within a few decades.
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