"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Thank You, Senator Grassley

>> Wednesday, July 27, 2005

This is the response I received to an e-mail I sent to Senator Chuck Grassley. He, unlike Senator Harkin, seems to be taking time to read and comprehend letters from his constituents before responding (if you can call that crap Harkin sent a response) to them.

While I think most politicians are self-serving egomaniacs, he appears to be doing SOMETHING. I appreciate the response to my letter, and I will continue to send messages.

Dear Mrs. Hauschildt:

Thank you for voicing your thoughts on our immigration policies. I share your concerns about our border security, and want to reassure you that I am opposed to proposals that would grant amnesty to illegal aliens who are currently in the United States.

I would like to inform you that Congress passed, and the President signed a bill into law which includes measures that 1) require states to implement secure driver’s licenses; and 2) prevent terrorists from using asylum to gain entry into the United States; and 3) authorizes the improvement of border fences. These provisions were originally part of the REAL ID Act.

Also during discussion of the supplemental spending bill, Senator Craig offered an amendment to allow agricultural workers to earn legalization. I voted against this amendment, also known as AgJOBS, and it was not included in the final bill.

In the past, I have opposed legislation that provided amnesty for unauthorized workers. Amnesties encourage illegal immigration and undermine respect for the law. In fact, illegal immigration soared when Congress passed amnesty legislation in 1986. I don’t think we should go down that road again.

President Bush has stressed his opposition to a blanket amnesty, but has supported reforms to our current laws. I think we can agree that we need a system that ensures a more orderly, humane, legal and safe migration.

One legal process in place for foreign workers is the H2B visa program. This provides entry to those who work in seasonal, non-agricultural industries. While we have a cap of 66,000 per year, the number of applicants far exceeds the allotment. A provision to increase the cap on visas, and allow for them to be distributed over the course of the year, was included in the supplemental.

The Department of Homeland Security is instrumental to securing our borders, and keeping interior states like Iowa safe from terrorist threats. Since 9/11, we have enacted reforms on visas and increased resources at our borders. We have implemented the entry-exit system, also known as U.S. VISIT, to track all visitors (including foreign students) who come to the United States.

While I believe that our country is safer than it was on 9/11, I continue to raise concerns with the department.

I have asked the department about “catch and release” policies that allow apprehended aliens to go free in our communities.

I have asked the department to close a loophole in the visa revocation process. When a person’s visa is revoked – maybe for national security reasons – it is almost impossible to deport them if they’ve reached U.S. soil. I have introduced legislation to fix this loophole.

I have pressured the State Department to interview more foreigners who want to come to the United States. I have encouraged them to cease using Foreign Service Nationals to process applications.

Congress needs to continue to exercise oversight of this new Department.

We need to more closely monitor those we have let in. Currently, local law enforcement officials do not have the authority to arrest individuals because of their illegal immigration status. I was the author of a program created in 1996 that would allow the feds to work cooperatively with state and local officials in order to investigate, apprehend, or detain illegal aliens. Unfortunately, law enforcement is not taking advantage of this program.

We need to do more for interior states like Iowa. Incredibly, there wasn’t even an INS office in Iowa to deal with the state’s growing problems. I persisted, and in March 1996, the Justice Department agreed to locate a permanent immigration office in Des Moines. Since then, I have insisted that more immigration personnel be placed in the Quad Cities.

I truly understand your concerns about our immigration policies, and proposals for reform. As a member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, please know I will continue my oversight in this area. Your comments and suggestions are valuable in this endeavor. Please keep in touch.


Chuck Grassley
United States Senator

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