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The Principle of the Path
By Congressman Randy Forbes, December 3, 2007

It is part of human nature to give rewards for good behavior. Rewarding good behavior encourages more good behavior. This age-old method has benefited parents and teachers for years. The problem with this method occurs when rewards are given for bad behavior - and worse, when they are given for illegal behavior. Just as common sense tells us that rewarding good behavior will elicit more good behavior, common sense also tells us that rewarding illegal activity will encourage more illegal activity. And that eventually, the results could be severe. Most Americans realize this when it comes to illegal immigration - rewarding illegal immigration will only encourage more illegal immigration, and put us on a path towards serious consequences.

A few weeks ago, Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York backed off of his plan that was announced in September to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. Governor Spitzer argued that providing illegal immigrants with driver's licenses would increase safety on New York streets. Widespread public outcry ultimately forced Governor Spitzer to withdraw from his plan, but his proposal remains a clear example of our government seeking to reward illegal immigration. New York would have been the fourth state in the U.S. to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants; Vermont, Arizona, and the state of Washington already have reached such policy agreements.

At first glance, what’s concerning about the practice of issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants is that it directly threatens the national security of our country. A driver’s license is a gateway identity document that can be used to help obtain passports, birth certificates, or social security cards. They can be used to gain admittance to secure areas, like airplanes and other forms of public transportation. Furthermore, these documents can also be used to obtain voter registration and to register for government benefits like Social Security or Medicare, thus creating further unfair burden on American taxpayers.

But the driver’s license issue is about more than national security, taxpayer dollars, and government programs. Providing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants gives a level of credibility and a message of reward and acceptance to those who have shown disrespect to our nation's immigration laws. It places our nation on a continued path of providing amnesty and rewards to illegal immigrants rather than on a path of effective law enforcement and fully secure borders. After all, how do we give a valid official license to an illegal immigrant to operate a vehicle in our country when our laws say that person is not legally allowed to be here in the first place?

Immigration has been an issue for the United States since its birth. Our nation has long recognized the value and importance of immigrants to our nation, and the equal importance of immigrants and citizens adhering to the rules of our legal system. The American people understand that illegal immigration is just that – it is illegal. What they can’t understand is why their gridlocked leaders in Washington continue to keep our nation on the path of rewarding illegal immigration.

Years ago, I heard someone speak on the principle of the path. The principle of the path says that each action you take sets you on a path towards a particular consequence, whether good or bad. No matter what your intentions are, your actions ultimately determine what path you are on. To remove oneself from a particular path or to change to a different path, it requires more than intention - it requires a change in action.

Americans want to see change in action in our nation’s immigration policy. They want to know that the steps that their leaders are taking are putting America on the right path in terms of immigration – a path that reflects our core belief that entry into the United States is not a right, but a privilege.

There are many steps on the path to restore this confidence. Available on my website are a list of bills that I have cosponsored and that I am working to pass to put America back on this path.

They include bills to enforce our nation's current immigration laws, to staff our borders, to deport illegal aliens, to punish employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, to assist our overburdened states and localities, and to improve our nation's immigration databases and enforcement techniques. I encourage you to review these bills at http://randyforbes.house.gov/issues/immigration.htm.

In response to the driver’s license issue, I have cosponsored two bills, H.Res. 800, which expresses the sense of Congress that driver’s licenses should not be issued to illegal immigrants, and H.R. 4176, the Prevention of Unsafe Licensing Act, which would prohibit states from issuing any driver’s license or identification card to an individual unlawfully present in the United States. These also are available on my website to read.

Taken individually, these bills are small steps, but collectively their passage would lay out a significantly different course for our nation’s immigration policy - a path that leads towards effective enforcement of our immigration laws, a path that puts an end to the rewards that entice illegal immigrants to come here and stay, a path of principle.

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