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Congressman Jim Renacci's Weekly Column

Immigration reform must start with border enforcement.

Both the Senate and President Obama recently unveiled frameworks for how to reform our broken immigration system. In my opinion, any immigration reform proposal must begin with border enforcement. In order to protect our economy, our national security and our sovereignty, we must protect our border. No changes should be made to the legal status of those who are here without documents until the border is secure.

With regard to the 12 million undocumented people who currently reside in this country, under no circumstances should they be given preferential treatment or rewarded for entering this country illegally. I recognized that we are a nation of immigrants and that the idea of rounding up 12 million people for deportation is simply unrealistic.

But we must draw a clear distinction between those who have come here legally and those who did not. If you have come here illegally and then committed another crime within our borders, you should be deported immediately. If you have come here illegally and received government benefits of any kind, you should pay a fine, in addition to back taxes, or face deportation.

For all others who are undocumented, if you can pass a background check and pay back taxes, I am open to considering plans that would allow those individuals to earn temporary legal status and then take a place at the back of the line to seek permanent legal residency. However, any such proposal must be very narrowly tailored and should not apply to any other individuals, relatives or otherwise.

I continue to have deep concerns about what an influx of new immigrants would mean for our economy, which is already struggling to provide jobs for Americans. However, I recognize the realities of the current situation and I am open to finding a responsible path forward.

In the next few months, the House will pass our budget and for the third consecutive year it will lead to a balanced budget. By comparison, the Senate has not passed a budget in four years and the President’s last budget would have added almost $10 trillion to our debt over the next decade.

This week the House passed a balanced budget bill introduced by Rep. Tom Price, my colleague on the Budget Committee. Mr. Price’s bill is a common sense, simple proposal: If the President does not pass a budget that balances in 10 years, he must provide a plan explaining to the American people how long it will take with his proposed policies to get back to a balanced budget. The answer to our broken national finances isn’t to ignore the problem, or worse accelerate it.

A balanced budget matters to seniors who rely on their benefits, to middle class Americans who can’t afford to see their taxes go up to pay for Washington’s runaway spending, and to children whose futures will be limited if our government does not live within it means. Continuing to spend money we don't have is unfair to our children and grandchildren.

The House recognizes this, which is why for the past two years we have passed budgets that will balance and actually begin paying down our debt. This year’s House budget will do the same, only sooner. It is time for the President and the Senate to follow our lead. Time is running out and our debt is growing by the minute.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by following me on Facebook (facebook.com/repjimrenacci) and Twitter (@RepJimRenacci). If you have questions or comments regarding my work in Congress, please do not hesitate to contact my new Wadsworth office at (330) 334-0040 or my Washington office at (202) 225-3876.

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Ken Palosi February 07, 2013 at 04:25 AM
The immigration problem is almost as complex as our budget woes. To say that securing our borders is the most important thing that we must do is not realistic. The cost of securing our borders would be enormous and most likely ineffective. The budget debate is a farce! The republicans are hell bent upon ham-stringing the Obama administration without any regard to the economic health of our economy. On the other hand the adminitration has not offered any practical solutions to our budget woes. The one basic fact that both sides are not addressing is that some way, some how, we all will have to share in paying down our national debt and rebuilding our economy. This will mean that ALL of us must participate in rebuilding our economy and our country.
Chapman Mom February 08, 2013 at 04:31 PM
how can we ever begin to pay down out national debt, when every day dozens and dozens of pregnant illegal immigrants sneak across our borders and are not only given free hospitalization to deliver their child, but that child is now an automatic american citizen, granted a free education, free healthcare, until they are 18 years old. on us the new minority in this country - taxpayers
Dave Horton February 09, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Part 1 Ken I must respectfully disagree with you. The immigration and budget "problems" are not complex they are actually very simple. On illegal immigration, we don't enforce the laws on the books as written nor do we protect our borders. We have millions of illegals in our country with more coming every day. Before we can even think about dealing with those that have been here for years we have to stem the tide and secure our border. This is not just a financial issue, although there are large costs, it is a security issue first and foremost. We have a porous border and we know there are bad guys crossing. How many of these are would be terrorists? Just because we have not had an attack since 9/11 doesn't mean there won't be another. Our southern border is an open invitation and we must close it now. Second we must enforce our laws as passed by Congress, not make up new loopholes just because our President doesn’t like them and wants to score point with voters. We need to give companies the tools to verify status and come down hard on companies that hire illegals. We also need to stop giving healthcare and financial support to people that are not legal citizens. If someone needs medical attention to save their live then by all means they should have it but then the law needs to kick in and they must be deported.
Dave Horton February 09, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Part 2 On the budget, the debate is not a farce it is not existent. The Senate has refused to pass a budget in for years violating their Constitutional responsibility. The Senate would much rather keep up the continuing resolutions so they can baseline off of the 2009 budget with the extra trillion dollars from the stimulus plan. The House on the other hand has passed a budget every year since the Republicans took control. I haven’t liked any of them but they did pass a budget. The Key is to quit spending more than we take in and we need to balance our budget soon. I realize this can’t be done in one year so I will take the ten year plan. Will it be easy? No it is going to be hard and deep cuts are going to be required across the board. We also need to seriously look at what we want our federal government to do. I will submit that it is too big and needs to be reduced in size a significant amount. Big government costs lots and lots of money and unfortunately our credit cards are maxed out.
Ken Palosi February 09, 2013 at 02:49 PM
Dave Horton: The U.S. has nearly two thousand miles of border with Mexico. While we must make an effort to secure the border and control illegal border crossings it will be tremendously expensive and unless we are willing to allocate the funds we are pretty much going to have to make do with the current situation. I agree with you that we need to give employers the tools to check the status of people they hire and also we need to penalize those that flagrantly hire illegal immigrants. It is somewhat ironic that the most potent weapon we have against illegal immigration is the current recession. More and more illegal immigrants are returning to their homelands because they cannot find work in the U.S. As far as the budget goes I am pretty much disgusted with Democrats, Republicans and the vociferous rabble that wants to cut taxes in an effort to starve the beast of large government. We all must realize that eventually we may all have to pay more in taxes in order to dig ourselves out of the economic quagmire that we are in. If we don't, it may take decades before we see anything like a healthy economy in the U.S. In addition we are faced with a reduced standard of living and an unemployment rate of 7-8% that will linger for many years.
Tim Smyth February 09, 2013 at 09:19 PM
It seems that we are trying to treat the symptom and not the cause when it comes to immigration. Reminds me a bit of the medical community - but that's another rant. Be honest with yourself. YOU either are an immigrant or are a descendant of an immigrant. Yes, that includes the Native Americans that crossed the Bering Straits before the last Ice Age. As a proud melting pot we should embrace all immigrants and all cultures with their influences. That is what America is all about. The real problem (and whipping post of the ethnocentric anti-immigration crowd) is that rights aren't entitlements. Nobody should expect a hospital to care for ANYONE who isn't willing to pay for it (now or later). But the problem with handouts to illegal immigrants is NOTHING compared to what "legal" citizens get. Cut them all off and whip open the doors. Come here. Work Hard. Pay Taxes. Suffer the morons in government like the rest of us.
Ken Palosi February 10, 2013 at 12:44 AM
The thing is we don't have to suffer those morons in government. They are there because we put them there. The unfortunate thing is they are a reflection of us because we elected them. Maybe we just need to be electing a new set of morons each time until maybe, just maybe we get lucky and get someone of substance.
Tim Smyth February 10, 2013 at 01:09 AM
Well Ken, I guess that depends upon whether you just voted for the lesser of two evils presented by our narrow minded two party system that is tantamount to voting for the same thing year in, year out. I see alternatives and have a clean conscience.
Ken Palosi February 10, 2013 at 01:29 AM
How about sharing your alternatives? Each election I desparately wish that I had an alternative. In one of my previous blogs I proposed that we have a box marked "none of the above" and when we check it we could reject all the offical candidates until we have a palatable choice.
Tim Smyth February 10, 2013 at 01:46 AM
Last time, Gary Johnson.

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