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Immigration

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As the granddaughter of Italian immigrants, I am thankful America has always opened her arms to people looking to build a better way for themselves and their families. But today America’s immigration system is broken. It’s not working for families; it’s not working for employers; it’s not working for taxpayers. However, the task before Congress as it considers immigration reform is not to just “get it done” as President Obama urged in his 2013 State of the Union Address. There is too much at stake for that. We must approach immigration reform carefully and with ample public input.

To be clear, it is the responsibility of Congress – not the President – to pass legislative reforms to our immigration system. On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced executive actions that will allow 4-5 million illegal aliens to obtain legal work permits. These actions to grant amnesty overstep the boundaries clearly established by the U.S. Constitution and further complicate efforts to reform our immigration system.

It is my firm belief that any effort to reform our country’s immigration system must begin by securing the border. Currently, an estimated 400,000 undocumented workers live in North Carolina, and an additional 10,000 illegal immigrants come to our state each year. Sustained border protection can stem illegal entry, but until we commit to fortifying our borders, illegal immigration will remain a threat to our national security and prosperity.

The incentive for illegal immigration into the United States must also be removed. Breaking the law to enter the United States should not be rewarded with easy employment or access to taxpayer-funded benefits and programs. Workplace enforcement is a critical component to immigration reform. Those who knowingly hire illegal workers are complicit in the broken state of immigration in this country. America currently operates with an optional E-Verify system that allows employers to confirm whether prospective employees are, in fact, legal to hire. Congress should explore making E-Verify mandatory and consider consequences for employer violations that amount to more than a slap on the wrist.

Furthermore, immigration reform must also correct glaring problems with the current visa system. It is estimated that as many as 40 percent of illegal residents in this country have overstayed once-legal visas. The existing visa bureaucracy has to be overhauled in favor of a responsive system that tracks individuals upon entry and ensures timely exits. We should also give priority to those with sought-after skills.

America is a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. Deference to the rule of law is a defining feature of our great country and part of what makes us a beacon of hope for those escaping corruption and poverty in their home countries. Amnesty undermines that and only serves to make immigration problems worse. Reform cannot simply forgive illegal entry. Though lax or even nonexistent enforcement provided an incentive, people made a choice to break the law. We should not condone, legalize, or reward that choice.

If you would like some general immigration statistics, they can be found here.
 
Legislation pertaining to immigration sponsored, co-sponsored, or supported by Rep. Foxx:
H.R.140: Birthright Citizenship Act
H.R. 276: Immigration Compliance Enforcement (ICE) Act
H.R.604: Nuclear Family Priority Act 
H.R. 1332: Deny Amnesty Credits Act

If you would like any more information about this or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
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