Congressman Bob Gibbs

Representing the 7th District of Ohio

July 3, 2013

July 3, 2013
Columns

Democrats and Republicans agree that our immigration system is broken.   I, along with my Republican colleagues in the House, stand firm in arguing that securing our borders is the most important priority of any reform plan.  We need reforms that not only enforce current laws, but also ensure that we have secured our borders.  We must also implement visa reforms that make it extremely difficult to overstay a visa. Approximately 40% of the illegal immigrants in our country have overstayed their visas, and that is unacceptable.

The House is currently in the process of constructing legislation to address our broken immigration system. The Judiciary Committee has approved several bills to address immigration reform.  The SAFE Act, the AG Act, the SKILLS Visa Act, and the Legal Workforce Act were all approved by the Committee, but before backing a specific plan, I will have to study the details, as well as listen to the feedback from my constituents.

The Senate-passed bill, which was approved on June 27th, gives the Department of Homeland Security and the Administration too much say in deciding when the border is secure. Our immigration system is broken today because past and present administrations have not effectively enforced our immigration laws. Furthermore, the Senate bill requires DHS to increase the number of border patrol agents by 20,000 by the year 2021.  So, not until 2021 is the DHS Secretary required to hire 20,000 additional border patrol agents, eight years after illegal immigrants have been essentially legalized.

That said, since the last comprehensive immigration law was passed, the population of illegal immigrants in this country has increased dramatically. With approximately 11 million illegal immigrants residing in our country today it is clear the status quo is not acceptable.

We need to address effective interior enforcement and develop a plan for what to do with those who illegally pass the border, as well as legal immigrants who violate the terms of their visas.

We must focus on avoiding the mistakes that have been made time and time again. In order to do that, we cannot allow the President to have unilateral control over the enforcement of the laws that he has repeatedly failed to enforce.