"But we have to pass the health care bill so that you can find out what's in it."
-- Nancy Pelosi, March 2010
Remember those words from then-House Speaker Pelosi? As one of the loudest voices in Congress opposing the federal takeover of our health care system, I and my Republican colleagues knew what was in the bill -- trouble. We knew Obamacare would be trouble for our families, our businesses and our economy. And yet President Barack Obama, Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid shoved Obamacare down the throats of the American people without ever really considering the devastating consequences of the law.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate recently made the same mistake by passing a bad immigration bill without careful consideration of the consequences. Rather than producing legislation the American people can count on to fix our broken immigration system, the Senate produced an Obamacare-like bill that is long on promises and surely short on results.
Since this 1,200 page monstrosity of an immigration reform package was rushed through the Senate, it has been proved to contain multiple kickbacks and carve-out provisions, similar to what we found in the Affordable Health Care Act -- after the bill was passed. We cannot afford another Obamacare disaster, and that is why I do not support the Senate's immigration reform bill.
In town hall meetings and throughout my visits across Pennsylvania's 9th Congressional District, people have been clear about the need to confront illegal immigration. I share their frustration and am invested in fixing our broken system that has allowed more than 11 million immigrants to come across the border illegally. However, as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky correctly pointed out during consideration of the legislation, the Senate bill would require us to blindly trust President Obama to implement border security eventually, while allowing amnesty immediately. And the Senate bill removes Congress from the border security equation, once again handing over more of our constitutional congressional authority to the executive branch.
The bill asks that the American people trust the bureaucrats in Washington to tell us that the border is secure and eliminates the ability of their duly elected representatives in Congress to vote on whether or not the border is secure. That is unacceptable to me and to the people I serve. Immigration reform must start with strict border security and end with the enforcement of our laws.
If you trust this administration to enforce our border security, then supporting the Senate bill makes sense. But I do not think the president is serious about border security. If he were, he would have implemented real initiatives to secure the border in the first five years of his administration. I will not stand idly by as the country makes another catastrophic error. I will do everything I can to prevent the Senate and the president from leaving our borders unattended and leaving the American people with nothing but lip service. You can count me as a "NO" vote on the Senate immigration bill or any other bill that provides amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Congress needs to earn the trust of the American people, and I think a step-by-step approach is necessary. In 1986 the U.S. gave amnesty to 3 million immigrants here illegally yet the government did nothing to curb the flow of illegals. The safety of our country is more valuable than that, and has been fought for by our men and women in uniform. After this administration's song and dance with Obamacare we simply cannot afford to hope that border security is more important to them than amnesty for illegals.
We can find a solution to our many immigration challenges, but we need to put our country on a path that allows the rule of law to be enforced and protects our citizens and our economy. I believe that path starts with securing our borders and preventing the entry of illegals into America. We also must put in place tangible milestones to measure the success of our border security. This is what the American people expect and have earned. It is what we deserve.
As citizens of this incredible country, we must protect its sovereignty, and that starts at the border. Once we prove the border is secure, we can continue to work toward solving the many other immigration challenges. One such challenge is the need to know who is in the country and why. Farmers depend on the work of migrant workers and need a system that works to provide legal, documented laborers they can rely on. A well-functioning worker visa system is a major priority in addressing immigration reform. I am hopeful that Congress will consider this and several border security measures, including completing the fence on our southern border and increasing our security presence there.
We are a nation of immigrants -- immigrants who helped build the greatest country in the history of the world. We did this by respecting the rule of law, not looking for ways around it.opinion_commentary
U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, a Republican, represents the 9th Congressional District.