Senator Cornyn on Immigration

Senator John Cornyn is traveling around Texas drumming up support for his legislation on immigration reform. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson has more on his visit to Houston.

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The U.S. Senate is preparing to take up legislation on immigration reform and border security and Sen. John Cornyn is touting his bill to constituents around the state. Cornyn is chair of the Immigration and Border Security subcommittee and says this is a nation of immigrants but also a nation of law.

"I really believe that one reason why we've seen public demonstrations and rallies -- why this is so much the subject of conversation at meetings like this and at dinner tables all around the state and nation, is that this is a problem that's been simmering for a long time and the federal government simply hasn't lived up to its responsibilities to deal with it in a responsible way."

The House passed an immigration bill that would impose tighter security along the U.S./Mexico border in the form of a 50-foot fence. The House bill also increases the penalty for violations of immigration laws. The Senate will debate several different versions of legislation, including a bill co-authored by Cornyn that would deploy more border patrol agents and allow people already in this country to work here legally for a five year period.

"We have an inadequate number of border patrol now to patrol a 2,000 mile southern border. We also have a northern border that is porous and that people can exploit. And we have to know whether people want to come into our country to do us harm or whether they want to come here to be employed. I happen to also believe that we need a way for the demands of the American economy to be satisfied through a legal system of immigration and a temporary worker program."

Cornyn says the failed policies of the federal government are costing taxpayers money and promoting discontent. He says no one has exclusive wisdom on this complex issue but lawmakers need to start somewhere. Cornyn spoke to members of the Greater Houston Partnership about his proposed legislation. GHP Chairman Chip Carlisle.

"We had a lengthy discussion about where the partnership is compared to the elected officials at large. And I would say -- you know -- just like our community is -- you know -- there's no concensus at this point. But we're all driving towards some principles that I think are very important and from those principles perhaps develop -- you know -- some things that might allow us to move forward with action."

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have held rallies and demonstrations to draw attention to the immigration legislation. A nationwide rally is planned for May 1st, when thousands of people are expected to boycott the workplace and school and take to the streets in marches and demonstrations. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

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