Perspective: Immigration reform must be thorough

Many of you have been quite vocal about the immigration bill that passed in the Senate late last month and that is why I wanted to make it clear that I oppose the legislation as passed. I also wanted to take a moment to explain how the process is likely to play out from here.

Immigration reform is too complex and too important to not go through the proper, thorough legislative process. While the Senate has passed its own bill, the House remains opposed to it and dedicated to passing its own immigration reforms in a more deliberate way. The House Judiciary Committee and House Homeland Security Committee have both already started the process of writing and fine-tuning immigration reform bills addressing specific issues that have contributed to the broken system. These smaller bills begin with a strong border security bill, and include bills to reform the visa systems for high-skill workers and farm workers, and a bill to expand the E-Verify system to help employers hire employees able to work legally in the U.S.

And make no mistake that as these bills come before the House, I will take into consideration the many comments I have received from Missourians, like you, over the past few months. As I have since I first ran for Congress back in 2008, I remain opposed to amnesty and I believe it is inherently unfair and insults legal immigrants who have spent years playing by the rules to come to this great country. Amnesty does absolutely nothing to solve our illegal immigration troubles; rather, it exacerbates the problem.

I am keenly aware that the legal process of immigrating to the United States is broken and must be fixed. This broken system often results in the separation of families for years and the loss of good workers to companies abroad and that is, in my opinion, unacceptable and totally avoidable. In order to make the changes we need, I am willing to work with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to find a solution.

Still, on an issue as important as this, I am not willing to compromise my principles. Therefore, as we tackle immigration, any reforms must strengthen our system to prevent immigrants from remaining in the country past their allotted visa stay and also our border to prohibit the entry of illegal immigrants and illegal substances which may threaten our communities, infrastructure, and economy. We must expand the use of E-Verify to verify work eligibility in the U.S. without penalizing companies that act in good faith to validate their workers. I also believe that we must concentrate on deporting criminal illegal immigrants immediately while reducing the wait times and bureaucratic red-tape for legal immigrant and non-immigrant visas. If we do this right, we will provide incentives for people to come to our country the right way and disincentives to come here the wrong way.

As we move forward with various proposals for immigration reform, I will remain steadfast in my belief that we are a nation of immigrants and that becoming an American citizen is a great privilege and one we should not take lightly. I also cannot accept the idea of giving those immigrants who have broken the law by coming here illegally an advantage over those who have underwent the legal process and those still waiting for acceptance to enter the U.S. legally. As always, I will continue to listen to you about this important issue and use your comments as a guide on future reforms.

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., represents the 3rd District, which includes Jefferson City. His local office call be reached at 573-635-7232.

Web link:

luetkemeyer.house.gov

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