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No to the Senate immigration bill

| Monday, July 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

“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-Speaker Pelosi? As one of the loudest voices in Congress opposing the federal takeover of our health care system, I knew what was in the bill — trouble. Yet President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid shoved ObamaCare down the throats of the American people without considering the devastating consequences.

Unfortunately, the Senate recently made the same mistake by passing a bad immigration bill without consideration of the consequences of their actions. Rather than producing legislation the American people can count on, the Senate produced an ObamaCare-like bill that is long on promises and short on results.

Since this 1,200-page monstrosity was rushed through the Senate, it has been proven to contain kickbacks and carve-out provisions, similar to what we found after the Affordable Care Act 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 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 here illegally.

However, as Sen. Rand Paul from Kentucky has pointed out, the Senate bill would require us to blindly trust President Obama to implement border security eventually, while allowing amnesty immediately. The Senate bill removes Congress from the border security equation, once again handing over more of our constitutional congressional authority to the executive branch.

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.

I will do everything I can to prevent the Senate and the president from leaving our borders unattended and 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.

We can find a solution to our 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 economy. That path starts with securing our borders and preventing the entry of illegals and includes tangible milestones to measure the success of our border security. This is what the American people expect and have earned.

Once we prove the border is secure, we can continue to work toward solving the many other immigration challenges. We 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.

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.

Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, represents Pennsylvania's 9th Congressional District.

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