Southern California is the epicenter of the immigration debate, so the hearing on temporary foreign labor today in hit home for me, both literally and figuratively.  Last week, when I returned home for the Memorial Day recess, this topic was on the minds of just about everyone I visited with – from business and government leaders to local press and rank-and-file constituents.  So, I came to this hearing – first and foremost – as someone who understands the unique challenges faced by those most directly impacted by illegal immigration and issues associated with it.

I also came to this hearing as a former small business owner, acutely aware of many of the staffing and employee benefits issues employers face each and every day.  As such, I understand how and why an expansion of guest worker programs – a topic of today’s hearing – would be embraced by many in the employer community.  It would more directly avail them of a new pool of workers – in a supposedly organized, orderly, and legal way.

However, while I recognize the views of those who favor an expansion of guest worker programs – particularly programs in agriculture, which Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) and I both know is as important to California’s economy as it is anywhere else in our nation – I am not convinced that we can find a workable solution to our illegal immigration crisis without addressing border security first.  While some see such an expansion as a pathway to citizenship, I instead see it as a slippery slope toward amnesty.  And I believe history – in particular, the ramifications of the 1986 immigration law – bears that out.