I received two follow-up letters from Texas Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison today and thought I would share them with you. It does seem that some of the Senate is listening. I hope they continue to listen to the people and not to the President and others including Kyle, Graham, Kennedy and McCain.
Dear Mr. Heard:
Thank you for contacting me about immigration reform. The need to fix our broken system is clear, and I appreciate having the benefit of your insight on one of the most important issues of our day.
Immigration reform ultimately must be about improving our system for legal immigration, not about creating new benefits for illegal aliens. Although we are a proud nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. If policymakers will agree that all immigrants must abide by the rule of law, then we can reach a consensus on ways to improve the legal process so that it meets the needs of our society, our economy and our national security.
Recently, the Senate began to debate S. 1348, a comprehensive immigration reform bill. It is encouraging that the Senate is taking up this important matter and attempting to address the problems that plague our immigration system. However, I have serious concerns that the legislation, as drafted, will repeat the well documented mistakes of the 1986 amnesty bill. Further, if we fail to address the rampant fraud and fail to close all loopholes in our current broken system, then we will fail to truly reform our system.
I have been working throughout my time in the Senate to develop a solution to this problem that I believe will work. I would invite you to visit my website at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/immigration to acquaint yourself with the immigration reforms I support. As we consider this bill in the Senate and beyond, I will continue to promote these policies, but I will oppose any bill that rewards illegal conduct and encourages further disrespect for our laws.
I appreciate the opportunity to represent the interests of Texans in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
Here is the letter from Senator Hutchison.
Dear Mr. Heard:
Knowing of your interest in the issue of immigration, I wanted to send you a copy of an opinion editorial that I wrote with Senator Cornyn three weeks ago about the immigration bill currently being considered by the U.S. Senate. The editorial appeared in newspapers throughout Texas.
Secure Borders and Immigration Reform Without Amnesty
by Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn
Published in Texas newspapers the week of May 21, 2007
As your U.S. Senators, we have been heavily involved in the Congressional debate on immigration reform for several years. We have taken a leadership role on this issue because we represent a state that uniquely benefits from the contributions of legal immigrants, but is also uniquely vulnerable to the dangers of illegal immigration. Throughout this process, our principles have been clear and consistent: We must secure our borders, and we cannot encourage illegal behavior through amnesty.
Last week, the Bush administration, along with a small group of Senators, announced a compromise immigration bill that would take a necessary first step in improving border security. We did not join in the announcement. While our efforts had a positive influence, we were not convinced the announced proposal guarantees repair of our current broken system. We are particularly concerned that we may be repeating the mistakes of the failed 1986 national amnesty.
As of late Friday, the actual text of the “grand compromise” had not yet been published. Major questions remain about details of the plan, and how it would work. , We believe the bill – which was negotiated privately – deserves a full public airing before it’s considered.
The bill promises some long-term positive changes, including significant border security measures, an end to chain migration, and a switch to green card distribution based on merit.
But many problems have not been satisfactorily addressed. For example, we must make certain that convicted criminals are not eligible for any legalization, and if these individuals attempt to stay here, that they are arrested and promptly deported.
We must ensure that only those who have played by the rules – and not those engaged in identity theft – receive Social Security benefits. This proposal would enable illegal immigrants to collect Social Security benefits for the time they were unlawfully in our country. At a time when we are already facing major shortfalls in our ability to pay benefits for future retirees, this represents an unfair burden on the American taxpayer. We must end the rampant document fraud that plagues our workplaces today, and do it in a way that is legally enforceable.
Some of our colleagues, sensing the fragile nature of the proposed compromise, want to rush it through the Congress immediately. This would be a major mistake. It is too important and too complicated to rush. The legislation requires extended Senate debate, with full opportunity for public input and criticism, and an open process for amendments to strengthen its provisions.
In 1986, the Congress approved a similar compromise plan that, in return for amnesty for most immigrants here illegally, promised an end to porous borders and disregard for our laws. Those promises were not honored. The amnesty legislation instead actually encouraged further disrespect for our laws, and led directly to the situation we face today.
As the bill reaches the Senate floor this week, our goal will be restoring the integrity of our borders, providing guest workers with opportunity, not amnesty, and preserving our social security for all who legally qualify. Our contributions to the debate will continue to be positive, and constructive.
Our country needs immigration reform. We must ensure that it’s done, and done correctly.
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Please do not reply to this message. If you have additional comments, send your remarks through Senator Hutchison's website at http://hutchison.senate.gov/. Thank you.
I am working on a "how-to eat an elephant" piece as a way to immigration reform.