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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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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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