May 16, 2013

“We are a nation of immigrants.”
Goodlatte Discusses the Effort He is Leading to Reform America’s Immigration Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a speech yesterday morning to a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) discussed our nation’s immigration system and the effort he is leading to reform the system in a way that not only recognizes the importance of immigrants to America, but recognizes the importance of border security and the rule of law, as well.

“We have a broken immigration system in our country, and we are hard at work trying to find solutions to fix it,” Goodlatte stated. “We have embarked upon an effort to educate every member on the House side with regard to immigration law. It’s a very complex subject. We’ve been holding briefings in conjunction with the Whip’s office and the Policy Committee, and they are proving very useful in helping to determine a pathway forward to address the problem.”

“We are a nation of immigrants. There is not a person in this room who can’t go back a few generations or several generations and find someone in their family who came to the United States to better their lives. We are also a nation of laws. The rule of law is obviously one of the principles upon which the Judiciary Committee operates. But more importantly, it is a key principle to the success of the nation. These two things are both important to address. We have a tremendous opportunity to grow our economy, create jobs and restore American vitality.”

“The right people coming to the United States offer these opportunities. When they graduate from American universities and then go somewhere else instead of staying here, that’s a bad idea. Keeping them here working for U.S. companies or even starting their own companies, with the opportunity to lawfully stay here after they come out of our great universities is something we need to be addressing.”

Goodlatte, who became Chairman of the Judiciary Committee at the beginning of this Congress, also discussed some specific initiatives his panel plans to address.

“We are not seeing our current immigration laws enforced,” the Virginia lawmaker said. “We need new laws to ensure we have proper respect for the rule of law and proper enforcement of the law. The Homeland Security Committee has primary jurisdiction over issues pertaining to securing our border. They’re hard at work on that. In fact, they’re marking up a bill dealing with that aspect of the immigration issue this week. And we are encouraging them to move ahead in that regard.”

“We also believe that it’s very important to address the issues with regard to the interior of the country, as well. Thirty-five to forty percent of the people who are not lawfully present in the United States entered the country legally – through student visas, visitor visas, business visas, visa waivers. All of these people entered the country legally, so securing the borders really doesn’t affect that aspect of illegal immigration. Therefore, we need to have a system where we’re reducing the magnets that draw people here, and engage more people than what the federal government can put on the ground to make sure our immigration laws are enforced. We will be coming forward in the next week or so with a companion piece of legislation that will complement what they’re doing in Homeland Security, but focus on the interior of the country.”

Making reference to the recent lawsuit filed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents seeking to block an Obama Administration policy and the fact that ICE, with approximately 5,000 employees, remains understaffed, Goodlatte stated: “Five thousand people in a nation of more than three million square miles and 300 million people is not enough to address this issue in terms of the help on the ground that is needed in every community in America. I believe we should resolve the disputes the federal government, particularly the Obama Administration, has been having with Arizona, Alabama, and other states, and give clear statutory authority to the states to be involved in the process of enforcing our immigration laws.”

“We need to assure the American people that we’re not going to repeat the mistakes that we made in 1986. This is absolutely critical. In 1986, we gave an easy pathway to citizenship to close to three million people with the promise that we would have new employer sanctions, that we would have new border security provisions, and that we would enforce the law, and therefore illegal immigration was on its way out the door. But of course the opposite occurred. We passed bad laws with regard to illegal immigration reform and laws that were unworkable in sectors of the economy like agriculture. Today, probably 90 percent of farmers do not use the H-2A legal guest worker program for a variety of reasons. It is truly unworkable. What we need to have is a workable and legal system, but we also need to have clear enforcement of the law.”


The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.

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