INHOFE IMMIGRATION STATEMENT

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) tonight released the following statement in response to President Bush’s address to the nation:

“Under normal circumstances I would not support assigning the National Guard additional missions. Using the National Guard on the border is a slippery slope. Our guardsmen are already overworked carrying out military operations and while this idea may work as a temporary fix, it will not work in the long run. I reluctantly support this short-term use of our guardsmen given the unguarded state of our borders and President Bush’s assurance that this is a temporary measure. I will use my position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to ensure that this mission does not last more than one year.”

“The legislative situation in Washington is almost as dire as the circumstances on our borders. I have long made it clear that I will not support amnesty and the Senate bill’s ‘path to citizenship’ is nothing more than amnesty, plain and simple. We cannot reward illegal immigrants for breaking the law and we cannot allow for illegal immigrants to shortcut our nationalization process. I think the President said the right things tonight, but he did not explain how he would carry out his plan. I have listened to Senators on the floor explain how their bill does, or does not provide amnesty for illegal aliens and I look forward to a similar explanation of the President’s plan.

“The ENFORCE Act (S.2171) which I introduced late last year solves many of the problems the current Senate bill fails to address including: providing for the construction of a high-security, state of the art fence to prevent illegal border crossings; the creation of a border patrol support force made up of recently retired border patrol agents and the creation of tamperproof immigration documents to prevent fraud.

“I do agree with portions of the President’s plan, but I think both his plan and the Senate’s bill do not go far enough toward enforcing current immigration law or expanding infrastructure to accommodate the higher legal immigration numbers these plans allow. It is worth noting that according to experts, over the next 20 years the Senate bill would allow for five times as many immigrants to enter the US as current law.

“In its current form, the ‘Temporary Worker Program’ the President mentioned tonight is largely un-enforceable and poses a major threat to our national security. If we are going to allow individuals to briefly stay in our country for the sole purpose of working, there must be a system to both track and enforce the limitations of their visas. The Senate immigration bill all but guarantees these ‘temporary workers’ the right to become permanent U.S. residents and then citizens.

“Like the President I believe that requiring immigrants to learn English is a necessary and overdue change to existing law. I have introduced multiple pieces of legislation to this effect and I will continue until we are successful in making English the official language of the United States. As the President said, learning English allows immigrants to go, ‘from cleaning offices to running offices,’ I could not agree more.”