Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bill Richardson on Immigration Reform

Today, as hundreds of thousands of immigrants rally across our country, Bill Richardson is challenging President Bush to renew his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, and to get realistic with regard to the issue.

Bill Richardson is governor of a border state and deals with immigration issues every day. He's the only candidate who has any experience dealing with the issue. In addition, Bill Richardson knows that it's unrealistic to kick 11-12 million immigrants out of the country and then charge them up to $10,000 as the President has suggested to go back to their home country and apply for immigration legally.

Bill Richardson is the Governor of a border state and deals with the effects of immigration, legal and illegal, virtually every day. He has proposed a detailed, realistic plan for comprehensive immigration reform that would help secure our borders, bring the estimated 11-12 million illegal immigrants out of the shadows, and help strengthen our economy:

  1. The US must first secure its borders, and do it by doubling the number of Border Patrol agents and providing the latest technology to monitor remote areas. The Governor also believes the border fence will not work, sends the wrong message, and should be torn down;
  2. There must be a practical, humane plan to give illegal immigrants a path to legalization, and eventually a path to citizenship. Immigrants must be law-abiding and pass a background check, pay any back taxes and a fine for entering the country illegally, they must learn English, and they would not jump in front of those applying to enter the country legally. Eventually, after meeting all specified requirements they would be granted legal residency and ultimately would be allowed to apply for citizenship;
  3. Employers who knowingly hire illegal workers should be hit with stiff penalties. These laws have been on the books for years but have not been enforced;
  4. The United States should significantly increase the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country, based on employer needs; and
  5. The US should engage Mexico and convince the Mexican government to do its part to stop the northward flow of illegal immigrants. Last fall, Governor Richardson spoke with Mexican President Calderon, who admitted that Mexico should have a role in solving this problem. The two countries should also work together on economic development efforts, especially in the border region, and should initiate joint border law enforcement patrols to reduce violence, drug smuggling, and illegal immigration.
This is the most humane and sensible immigration plan put forth by anyone, Democrat or Republican, and makes a strong commitment to securing our borders, ensuring that the rule of law is followed, that labor needs are taken into consideration, and most importantly that we engage the Mexican government and work for bilateral solutions on this issue.

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