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Immigration continues to be under national scrutiny; especially after everything we learned about 9/11. According to the non-partisan Federation for Immigration Reform; during the 1990s, the U.S. immigrant population experienced its largest increase ever - about 11.3 million people. As a result, the foreign-born share of the population jumped from 7.9 percent in 1990 to 11.1 percent in 2000. Yet, Census Bureau estimates at the beginning of the new century indicate that the enormous increase of the 1990s will pale by comparison to the increase that will take place by 2010. If immigration continues at its current rate for the rest of the decade, the immigrant population will have increased by another 14 million, reaching a total of 45 million residents, or 14.2 percent of the population.

Our borders are not safe. Undocumented persons enter our nation daily and we have no idea what they are doing here. Illegal immigration is dangerous and out of control, threatening the lives and property of each American citizen and costing taxpayers billions.

Illegal immigration must be dealt with. We must improve interior enforcement and border control. The laws on the books must be enforced and the brave men and women in uniform on our borders must be provided the necessary resources. In order to play an active role in addressing this important problem, I am an active member of the House Immigration Reform Caucus.

One major problem our nation is having is that foreign governments have begun issuing “matricula consular” cards to non-citizens in this country illegally. Resembling a driver's license and displaying the bearer's supposed address in the United States, these cards are only needed by aliens who aren’t legally in the United States.

To help address this problem, I introduced legislation, H.R. 3674, the Financial Customer Identification Verification Improvement Act, which will prohibit the use of identification cards issued by foreign governments, including matricula consular cards, for purposes of verifying the identity of a person who opens an account at a financial institution.

In early 2005, the House took the responsible and necessary action of passing the Real ID Act of 2005, of which I am a proud cosponsor. This legislation establishes minimum security requirements for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. The Real ID Act also strengthened asylum procedures by requiring applicants to prove persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution based on specific criteria.

Importantly, the FY 2005 Wartime Supplemental Conference Report included $635 million for 500 additional Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents, 50 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigators, 168 enforcement agents and detention officers and 1,950 detention beds. In addition, the House passed Homeland Security appropriations bill includeds funding for 1000 CBP agents while the authorization for the DHS authorizes funding for 300 additional ICE attorneys to handle removal and related proceedings.

In order to help make our national immigration program a more effective and efficient system and in light of our recent national security concerns, I am also a supporter of these and other pieces of current legislation:

  • HR 98, The Illegal Immigration Enforcement and Social Security Protection Act of 2005 – would eliminate job opportunities for illegal immigrants so we can decrease their desire to illegally enter our country.
  • HR 820, to reauthorize the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) – The SCAAP is a formula grant program that provides financial assistance to states and localities for correctional officer salary costs incurred for incarcerating “undocumented criminal aliens.
  • HR 1567, the Citizen Reform Act – would deny citizenship at birth to children born in the United States of parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens..

While combating illegal immigration is a top-priority, we must not forget that there are many immigrants who are here legally, who followed the laws and did what they are supposed to do to enter our nation. Immigrants make an important contribution to the United States. Immigration policy must ensure that the contributions of law-abiding individuals are not eclipsed by the bad effects that illegal immigration can have on our country.

Much has been said about providing amnesty to non-citizens who are illegally in this country and working. While it is important to be able to document everyone who has entered the United States, rewarding those who have broken our laws, the same laws most of our families had to obey when they first entered the country, is not the way. I am solemnly against providing amnesty to illegal aliens and will do all I can to prevent any plan that would.

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