Estimates today suggest that there are somewhere between 11 and 12 million undocumented workers in the United States.
The US Congress has for two decades abandoned its basic obligation to protect our borders and promote rational immigration laws - and the result has been a complicated mess. At the heart of the problem has been the 5th District’s 30-year incumbent, F. James Sensenbrenner. While US businesses were clamoring for high tech, skilled, and even seasonal workers, Congressman Sensenbrenner cosponsored legislation to slash legal immigration to the United States by 70%. The result has been a massive increase in undocumented workers, and increased outsourcing of jobs by American employers who can’t get the skilled and high-tech workers they need.
When Congress attempted to fashion a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration package, Congressman Sensenbrenner obstructed, refusing to work across the aisle. And when those efforts failed, he offered his own, unrealistic and draconian proposals: Turn the 11 to 12 million undocumented workers in the US into felons; give them jail sentences; split up millions of marriages and families, overwhelming our foster care systems. Enforce and deport.
Congress has completely failed its responsibility to promote border security and family security, which explains why Americans have so little faith in Congress today and are ready for change.
Jim Burkee believes that immigration reform, like so many of the major issues our Congress has been unwilling and unable to tackle, must be bipartisan. It must demonstrate to the American people that we will uphold our basic duty to provide security. It must be fair and just to those who have come to this country and to millions more around the world waiting for their opportunity to come to the land of the free. It should promote families and the welfare of children – reuniting families, rather than separating them. It should promote the interests of businesses, who will need more labor to fuel the economy of the 21st century. It should value the importance of assimilating immigrants and helping them to learn English, our history and our culture so that we will continue to share and pass down the values that make us all American. And it should take into account the deep friendships we have with Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Immigration reform must reflect Fifth District values: National security, economic security, and family security.