Senator Orrin Hatch came to The Heritage Foundation on Friday to present his forthcoming immigration bill—“The Strengthening our Commitment to Legal Immigration and America’s Security Act.” His remarks, and the content of his bill, are a step in the right direction on immigration and border security—given that President Obama used his State of the Union address to make another case for amnesty.
The bill was written in collaboration with members of Congress from states along the southwestern border. As Hatch said, it’s important to work with those who, “of all people, know what resources we need to deploy to accomplish the job.” It is founded upon the conviction that federal immigration law needs to be enforced, not ignored. Senator Hatch emphasized the connection between liberty and the rule of law: “Most Americans believe that our laws ought to be enforced…. That’s one of the things that’s kept us so free.”
The bill addresses key areas in which law enforcement has been lacking under the Obama Administration. Enforcement has been weak, of course, because Secretary Napolitano’s model for immigration reform is an inherently unstable, metaphorical three-legged stool—premised largely on an expensive amnesty that would increase, not decrease the illegal immigration problem. Heritage has proposed an alternate “three-legged stool,” absent amnesty—and including internal enforcement, border security, and reforms to the legal immigration system. Senator Hatch’s bill helps to make the border more secure and increase interior enforcement efforts.
Specifically, the bill, among several reforms, would take actions such as remedying systematic abuse of the deferral/parole prerogative in immigration cases and ensuring that jurisdictions that take federal dollars for immigration enforcement aren’t actually acting as sanctuaries for illegal immigration. It would also track welfare payments to illegal immigrants and begin to combat identify theft. One way Hatch’s bill attacks identity theft is requiring the IRS to take a proactive approach to the theft of Social Security Numbers so that no citizen finds himself untangling an identity theft mess built up over fifteen years. Hatch says the IRS is “the federal agency that is best suited to track” identity theft.
Senator Hatch’s bill takes concrete steps to fill up gaps in the enforcement of immigration laws where the current administration will not act. Congress should move to restore the rule of law where it has lapsed.
Kenneth Spence is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm
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