As the United States Senate debates the future of our nation's immigration policy, I wanted you to know my steadfast beliefs on this important issue. Specifically, many believe that the Senate plans to move forward with a landmark proposal authored by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) granting automatic American citizenship to people here illegally in America. I call that amnesty and it's just plain wrong.

Giving amnesty to the estimated 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants here right now and making them instant American citizens would create a ticking time bomb within our own borders. Don't believe me - just check out the news. Half of the suspects in the recently foiled plot to attack American soldiers at Fort Dix in New Jersey were here illegally. Now is the perfect time to discuss our nation's dreadful lack of enforcement of our existing immigration laws as a real national security risk.

In the last Congress, I co-sponsored an enforcement-first approach to illegal immigration. That initiative would hold people accountable by cracking down on employers hiring illegal workers, increase penalties for people re-entering illegally, encourage cooperation between border sheriffs and federal law enforcement, punish smugglers trafficking in human beings as well as confront the emerging problem of alien gangs. For starters, local law enforcement folks must have the power and the directive from above to end the "catch-and-release" program - and turn it into "catch-and-return!"

I'm also the co-sponsor of several measures that advocate pardoning the border agents sitting in jail for doing their jobs - Agents Ramos and Compean. They're serving 11 and 12 years respectively for "violating the rights" of an illegal immigrant who tried to smuggle over 700 pounds of drugs into America. Those serving on the front lines stemming the tide of illegal immigration want, need and deserve our full support - not jail sentences for enforcing the laws.

There are legal ways to become an American citizen. Our nation was founded on legal immigration. In fact, I recently met a college-age woman visiting my office who told of her long - and patient - wait. She's doing the right thing by waiting her turn. Our nation was founded on the rule of law and enforcing the immigration laws should be priority number one.