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Much needed immigration reforms

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By Congressman Bob Goodlatte

The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. Legal immigration has blessed our nation with talent, diversity, and a commitment to freedom. However, we are also a nation of laws. Illegal immigration mocks our system of justice and costs our taxpayers billions of dollars every year, while taking jobs from law-abiding citizens and legal residents. This situation has reached crisis proportions and cannot be allowed to continue.

While the fight against illegal immigration starts at our nation's borders, it should not end there. Nearly half of those who are illegally in the U.S. entered legally and then violated the terms of their visas by simply not leaving. Weak enforcement in the interior of our country and confusing provisions in immigration law have allowed illegal aliens to stay in the country for years.

Unfortunately, our immigration laws also contain a dangerous policy. Each year there is a national immigration "lottery" by which approximately 50,000 foreign nationals receive green cards to become legal permanent residents of the U.S. Each successful applicant is chosen at random and given permanent resident status based on pure luck. The visa lottery program threatens national security, results in the unfair administration of our immigration laws, and encourages a cottage industry for fraudulent opportunists.

Recently, the General Accounting Office (GAO), the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress, published a study which exposes the rampant fraudulent activity surrounding the visa lottery program and calls for the immediate termination of this program because it poses a significant national security threat.

I am pleased to say that earlier this year the House of Representatives worked in a bipartisan fashion to stop taxpayer money from funding the flawed and foolish Visa Lottery program. I offered the amendment to the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act which eliminates all funding for this controversial program.

Additionally, I've joined several Members of Congress in introducing legislation which cracks down on illegal immigration by focusing on employment and interior enforcement and increased border security. The bipartisan "Secure America with Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act" requires employers to verify their workers are in the U.S. legally, increases the investigative abilities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, trains additional state and local law enforcement personnel, and increases border security by providing an 8,000-agent increase for the U.S. Border Patrol.

Completely closing our borders to legal immigrants who are needed in this country is not the answer. However, we need to aggressively crack down on illegal immigration. Now is the time to do so and to ensure that security within our borders is the highest priority. As your Congressman I remain committed to these principles and the rule of law and will continue working for serious immigration reforms.