Not everyone knows for certain the circumstances of their ancestors coming to this country, but most of us can say that our parents, grandparents, great grandparents or before arrived here and found an opportunity to make the promise of a better life a reality.  And, like millions of immigrants before (and after), they shed former allegiances to their countries of birth and proudly became Americans.  Most Americans share a common heritage of immigrant ancestors coming to this country and enthusiastically adopting a collective history, language and adherence to the rule of law.

Immigration as a public policy issue encompasses American identity, national security, rule of law and our economy.  The failures in these areas in the current immigration system were painfully evident in Congressional debate over the past few weeks.

Immigration reaches to the heart of American identity -- what it means to be an American citizen.  I, like other Members, received countless highly emotional phone calls, letters and e-mails demonstrating deep convictions that people have about being American -- convictions that reveal a commonality of purpose in a shared language, love of freedom and respect for liberty.

Immigration affects our national security; successful immigration policy means passing and enforcing laws.  Border security is a cornerstone of sound immigration law and, if our borders are jeopardized, homeland security is compromised.

America is synonymous with opportunity precisely because we are a nation of laws.  We are governed by them; by adhering to them and the framework under which they are administered -- our Constitution -- we live in peace, freedom and prosperity.  Abiding by the rule of law means rejecting policies that reward illegal entry into the United States with the gift of permanent residency.

This only serves to encourage new illegal immigration.  Citizenship is a privilege, granted to those who uphold our laws.  Immigration policy must reflect this fact.  Citizenship is not a right.  Furthermore, any new naturalization procedures and permanent legal residency programs provided by law must be created only after carefully evaluating immigration healthcare costs and tax ramifications.  This didn't occur to my satisfaction.  Above all, the primary reason I voted against this bill was because it granted immediate permanent legal residency to everyone who has illegally entered the
country since the last amnesty program in 1986.

A robust economy hinges on having a temporary guest worker program to fill jobs that are not filled by American citizens.  U.S.-based businesses need economic incentives to keep operations stateside.  If they have a dependable labor pool at all skill levels, incentives to move operations overseas are greatly decreased.  We appreciate consumer goods and agriculture products "Made in America."