Published August 1993 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Immigration Reform Now!
The United States is a nation that was founded by immigrants. Men and women seeking a way of life free of religious, political, and personal persecution and oppression have been central to American history since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Unfortunately, the United States can no longer extend open arms to all those who seek entrance into our country in search of the opportunities that this nation once afforded all who made it to our shores. Any regular viewer of television newscasts is familiar with the spectacle of thousands upon thousands of illegal immigrants streaming across the ill-policed Mexican border or pathetically seeking to swim ashore by the hundreds from leaking, rusting vessels launched from China by criminal extortionists. In addition, the United States has endured an unprecedented explosion of legal immigration in recent years. In 1988, for example, legal immigrants admitted to the U.S. numbered approximately 600,000, while in 1991, more than 1.8 million legal immigrants were admitted, more than tripling the 1988 total. Against that background, particularly in this era of continuing economic hardship for our own native citizens, the government's failure to stem the tide of hundreds of thousands of immigrants is both unfair and irresponsible. This irresponsibility is particularly acute when one considers that the segment of our citizens who suffer most from this inpouring are those Americans at the lower end of our economic scale -- unemployed, unskilled, semi-skilled, and sometimes poorly educated men and women who are now in danger of becoming a permanent underclass in our society. As a first step toward reversing these trends, the Senate recently passed a federal appropriation bill that funds increased border patrols and detention centers, and new positions that will help to expedite and improve the processing of immigrants. Moreover, I am also cosponsoring legislation aimed at closing the asylum loophole through which have slipped untold numbers of immigrants, some of whom have reportedly conducted illegal terrorist activities against American citizens on our own shores. In addition, the President has recently unveiled a proposal to tighten enforcement of immigration laws. These measures mark an excellent start toward correcting and reversing some of our out-of-control immigration problems. Further, they represent a positive step toward bolstering our security against terrorists seeking bogus asylum here and toward protecting jobs for Americans. August 4, 1993