Enacting Sensible Reforms to Secure Our Borders
The immigration issue has generated significant attention in recent years due to pending reform proposals considered in Congress. As Alaskans know, this is an issue I have cared deeply about throughout my career. The United States has provided countless individuals of varying nationalities a refuge to pursue a better life by granting asylum or permitting various immigrants the opportunity to become American citizens. This country is a nation of former immigrants whose ancestors once came to our great country to provide more opportunities for their children or to escape persecution and danger. However, our current immigration system is in serious need of repair. The average citizenship application processing time for high skilled immigrants such as engineers or scientists can exceed 10 years, yet a growing number of undocumented workers either illegally cross our southern border or overstay temporary work visas every day. Reforms are needed, but should be done in a deliberately careful and gradual process.
First and most important, we need to secure our borders and restore enforcement of existing laws. I believe most Alaskans share my frustration that past administrations and the current President have failed to effectively enforce existing immigration laws. This effort to secure our borders must also include an effective visa overstay tracking system. Second, our nation must improve and expand use of electronic employment verification systems. Employers who harbor and employ undocumented workers incentivize illegal entry in our country and must be targeted. Third, we must reform our legal immigration system to retain high-skilled immigrants who train in our schools and then return home because it takes too long to receive a green card. Legal immigration should fill worker shortages that develop in certain high-skilled fields so our businesses can compete on a global scale. Once these issues are resolved then we can properly identify and deal with the estimated 11 million undocumented workers in this country today.