We were pleased to see Tennessee’s two members of the U.S. Senate get behind bipartisan legislation that will dramatically reform this country’s immigration laws. Not only did Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker vote for the immigration bill, which was approved in the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 68-32, but the two Republicans played a crucial role in crafting key compromises on the measure.
Corker, in particular, should be given credit for cosponsoring an important amendment to the bill to tighten security on the border with Mexico. Specifically, the measure calls for an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents and at least 700 miles of fencing along the southern border, full implementation and activation of $4.5 billion in surveillance technology and an electronic visa entry/exit system.
There’s been talk in Washington, D.C., for a decade now about the need for immigration reform. In recent years, however, it has been leaders in the religious community who have outlined the debate on immigration reform for what it truly is — a moral issue. Compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform — one that provides a path to citizenship and reunites families — is the only answer.
Without such a reform of our immigration laws, the 11 million people who are estimated to be living in this country illegally will continue to be pushed to the edge of society, marginalized and perhaps even preyed upon by unscrupulous individuals seeking to take advantage of the partisan bickering in Congress. The Senate has stepped up to the challenge, now it’s time for members of the House to do the same.
We urge House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to follow the bipartisan example set by our two senators here in Tennessee.