Jun 07 2007
--Senator Opposes Legislation: Says it Rewards Illegal Behavior While Hurting Citizens and Legal Workers--
“I strongly believe we need to find a workable solution to the growing problem of illegal immigration.
“When this debate began several weeks ago, I had serious concerns about this bill but didn’t want us to run from the problem – I believed we had a real opportunity to improve the legislation on the Senate floor. Through amendments, I had hoped we would toughen security and enforcement, eliminate provisions that reward illegal behavior, and support reforms aimed at strengthening families, citizens and legal workers.
“In the end, I couldn’t support the bill because it remained too deeply flawed. It doesn’t do enough to ensure that employers stop hiring illegal workers, and it doesn’t do enough to require major U.S. companies to hire and train U.S. workers first. It creates an unfair and complicated point system for legal immigration while essentially throwing out our historical commitment to unifying families.
“It allows 12 million people who are here illegally to jump to the front of the line and creates a guest worker program that could deny jobs and drive down wages for U.S. citizens.
“Rather than automatically granting legal status to all 12 million illegal immigrants, we should create a high bar for some based on their work history, payment of taxes, lack of criminal background and whether they even want to become a U.S. citizen.
“I did not vote against this legislation because I’m in any way anti-immigrant. As my voting record makes very clear, I support legal immigration and efforts to strengthen the lives and families of those who came here legally. I am proud of the fact that we are a nation of immigrants. Immigrants will always play an important role in our nation – past, present, and future -- and we need to be doing more not less to support those who have come, or want to come here legally.
“It is clear to me that we must strengthen the security of our borders and put more resources into enforcing existing laws; we must enact positive reforms that help strengthen the lives of our citizens and legal workers; and we must recognize the importance of keeping families together. We need practical solutions that are fair and respectful to all, and I hope we will have a bill in the future that achieves that.”