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Immigration Reform Means a More Secure America | Commentary

National security has been at the top of Americans’ minds lately. We all want to feel safe as we go about our daily lives.

An integral part of our nation’s security is our legal immigration system, which is currently a broken relic of the past. We must address this issue for the safety and security of every American.

The Senate’s Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act includes the toughest border enforcement requirements in U.S. history. The legislation may not be ideal, but it’s tough, it’s fair and it’s enforceable. It is exactly what we don’t have now.

Let’s look at what exactly is in the legislation. The bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to achieve within five years 100 percent awareness and 90 percent success in apprehending those trying to cross high-risk sectors of the southern border. What does that mean?

It means that, within six months of passage of the legislation, there must be a strategy for personnel, infrastructure and technology that must be procured and successfully deployed.

It means the DHS must create, fund and begin a border fence plan.

And it means that if the DHS doesn’t achieve these things in five years, a border commission made up of border state governors and officials will be created and charged with implementing a plan to successfully achieve the border security goal.

In conjunction, there must be an entry-exit system so that we know who is inside our borders. There would also be a functional E-Verify system that not only ensures that legally employable persons are hired but that employers are protected if the system fails.

In the meantime, the DHS will not process any applications for undocumented immigrants to become registered provisional immigrants until this strategy is announced and in progress.

Undocumented immigrants will not be able to transition from RPIs to legal permanent residents until the border security strategy is substantially deployed and substantially operational; the southern border fencing strategy is substantially completed; E-Verify has been fully implemented and an electronic entry-exit system at air and sea ports of entry is in use.

This legislation fixes our broken immigration system by securing the border with the toughest border security and immigration enforcement laws in U.S. history. We believe this is the beginning of an important debate, and we believe this debate will fix our immigration system by securing our borders, improving interior enforcement and dealing with our undocumented population in a tough but humane way that is fair to those trying to come here the right way and linked to achieving several security triggers.

This is a strong conservative effort that makes the best of the imperfect reality we face; it’s not ideal. But through an open and transparent process that welcomes public input, this legislation is going to get even better.

Jennifer S. Korn is executive director of the Hispanic Leadership Network. Previously, she served in President George W. Bush’s White House as director of Hispanic affairs.

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