I oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants and believe that the first step towards stopping the illegal immigration problem is to secure our borders. I have visited the border at the Rio Grande and witnessed firsthand the challenges facing our border patrol agents. To help them do their job, I have supported legislation to build over 700 miles of reinforced fencing along our southern border, increase the number of border patrol agents, and increase the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and other technology along the border to catch illegal immigrants before they cross into our country. I also support stiffening penalties on employers who knowingly employ illegals.
This year, I helped form a new Senate caucus focused on working to secure our borders. The Border Security and Enforcement First Caucus will raise public awareness about the need to boost national security by strengthening our borders. The caucus also will help keep this important issue on the forefront of the national agenda.
Immigration policy has important ramifications for our workforce. Mississippi businesses and farms must have access to the best technology to verify prospective employees’ status. The federal government has implemented E-Verify, an internet-based system with the ability to determine a worker’s employment eligibility almost instantaneously. While it is not failsafe, this system is an important tool in enforcing the law. Employers who follow the rules and utilize this verification method should be afforded protection from flaws in this process. Mississippi is one of 11 states nationwide that requires employers to use E-Verify, and while not perfect, the program has largely been successful. I was glad to support legislation recently signed into law that included an extension of the E-Verify program, which otherwise had been set to expire on November 30, 2008.