Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Senator-elect Bob Corker's nuanced view of immigration bureaucracy

"We have made it incredibly difficult for people who came to our country to work and study, and that needs to be corrected."

Tennessee has a new U.S. senator, and his name is Bob Corker. The Nashville Scene reports in this article that the senator-elect shared his views with that publication's editorial board on a variety of topics a few weeks before the election. Those thoughts were published for the first time today, in a post-campaign environment, and they paint in greater detail Corker's thoughts about "the" border, immigration bureaucracy, and how the various immigration rules and processes could be improved:

The first point is secure the border…. I think most Americans think we ought to secure the border. And let me just give you an experience. I was out of the state for 18 hours to do the immigration spot. We flew into Tucson and drove into Tombstone, Wyatt Earp’s old hangout, and I went to a place downtown to eat and sat with ranchers and former city council members and they could tell I was from someplace else…. The next morning, we had a conference call at 5 a.m. and then we drove down to the border. You get down there, it’s amazing. You can look out into the desert as far as you can see and there’s this pathway coming into America and then there’s big hole in the fence and then there’s actually these two big water tanks—at least there were that day—for people to get a drink of water if they happen to be thirsty coming into our country illegally. It really is eye opening…. And by the way, we have this image of who is coming into our country. People from all kinds of nationalities are coming across our borders.

So, I really do think we need to secure our border. No. 2, I think we should allow people to work here—I’m going to use the same words as are in the commercial—but only if they’re legal…. Our immigration policies as it relates to temporary workers are unbelievably antiquated and bureaucratic, and I think that has led to a lot of the illegal immigration because it’s too difficult to do it the right way; it’s too difficult to work temporarily in the country the right way. The other thing that never gets talked about in immigration is that, since 9-11, our country is making it very difficult for—we used to welcome the best and brightest from other countries from China, Japan and Europe to come here and work and study. Companies like Google and Intel were created by people like that. Since 9-11, we have made it incredibly difficult for people who came to our country to work and study, and that needs to be corrected….

Thirdly, the fact that people who are here illegally must return home and come back through legal channels, which was the third point in the ad. Sen. [John] Cornyn, who is from Texas, I think has the most thoughtful proposal as it relates to the people who are here in our country. And what it says is that people who are here illegally would register and say that they are here illegally…. They could work up to two years here and under really tough circumstances could work even longer. But for these people to work here in the country on a longer-term basis, they have to return home and come back through legal channels…. I think that this proposal is actually fair. Many—most—Hispanic families go back home a great deal anyway and visit. It happens all the time. I think what’s happened to those immigrants who are here illegally, they feel like people are looking at them all the time…. What that [proposal] does is do away with any long-term prejudice toward an entire population…. And it gives people time to do the right thing….

The fourth point in the ad—and this is taking longer than 26 seconds—is that we need to have an instant employer certification method. As I go around in the state, document fraud is a huge, huge deal. It’s amazing. You’ve got 20 people using the same Social Security number…. And then I think if people abuse the process they ought to be punished.

So that’s my policy. I actually think it’s very thoughtful. I know it’s very difficult to implement all of those things. Anything that we do on immigration is going to be difficult. But I think it’s fair, and I think it will work….

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