Thursday, June 27, 2013

Portman Statement on Immigration Reform Bill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today issued the following statement on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744):

“Our immigration system is broken. It can neither keep up with the demand for legal immigration nor stem the flow of illegal immigration. Unfortunately, the legislation the Senate voted on today is not a real fix because it does not include the new enforcement measures needed as part of a comprehensive package. The legislation includes the legalization of millions of those here illegally without adequate border and workplace enforcement to curtail future illegal immigration and ensure those currently here move out of the shadows.

“Border enforcement is important and I appreciate the improvements in the bill, although I supported a more effective ‘trigger’ that would require actual success in securing the border before any green cards were awarded to those here illegally. But even a secure border is not enough without effective workplace enforcement to turn off the jobs magnet. I believe the vast majority of people who come here illegally come for better jobs and a better life, and many will continue to find ways to circumvent border fences or border patrols. In addition, 40 percent of those here illegally came to the U.S. legally and overstayed their visas.

“This is why I worked so hard over the past month to improve the inadequate workplace enforcement system in the bill. The bill mandates over time the use of an electronic employment verification system — called ‘E-Verify’— but does little to address the inadequacies of the E-Verify system itself, including the widespread use of false documents. The best recent study found that an alarming 54 percent of those here illegally were able to pass the current pilot E-Verify program and obtain work authorization. We must do better. To me, implementing an effective E-Verify system is the most critical element in making immigration reform work. Unfortunately, despite many efforts, the bipartisan amendment I worked on with Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and others across the political spectrum was blocked from a vote on the Senate floor.

“I am hopeful that my colleagues in the House of Representatives will not let this key part of the debate — jobsite enforcement — fall to the wayside. I will continue to push them to strengthen not only E-Verify but also border security. Without addressing the magnet that draws people here illegally, I believe any immigration reform effort will unfortunately fail.”