Now y'all knowing Dixie, the way y'all know Dixie do you believe Mrs. Hutchison has ever really read a letter from me? Do you think she acknowledged my concerns and answered my questions?


August 7, 2006


Thank you for contacting me regarding the need to regain control of our Nation's borders, repair our immigration system, and strengthen national security. I believe that these issues are too important to our country’s future for Congress to walk away and fail to enact comprehensive reform. I welcome your thoughts and comments on this issue.

The millions of people who come to America search of jobs to support their families are not a
security threat to our nation. But there are weakness in our 7,000 miles of international border, and these security gaps have given terrorists, drug dealers and human traffickers an opening that is being exploited. We cannot allow this to continue.

The reforms that I have written with my colleague, Congressman Mike Pence, begin with border reinforcement. Our plan calls for substantial increases in personnel, "including 12,000 Border Patrol agents, 2,500 port of entry inspectors, 1,000 immigration and customs enforcement officials, 250 Deputy U.S. Marshals and 300 Drug Enforcement agents deployed to the Southern border. Our security measures also would provide 20,000 new detention spaces for those who have been caught entering the country illegally.

New equipment and technology would also be utilized in the border security initiative. Unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras, and sensors would be employed to create a security perimeter along the border. Strategic fencing and vehicle barriers would also be constructed.

It is expected that two years will be required for the implementation of these security initiatives. Our proposal would require the President to certify to Congress that these systems, additional personnel and infrastructure have been put ill place. If such a certification is made, a temporary guest worker program could begin, but no such program will be able to be initiated without a Presidential certification that the borders have first been secured. Only after control of our borders has been reestablished will our proposed temporary worker program, called the Good Neighbor SAFE Visa, begin.

We will then offer non-citizens an opportunity to fill jobs left vacant by America's labor pool. It neither grants amnesty to those who have broken the law nor provides an automatic path to citizenship.

The program will be limited to citizens from the North and Central American nations whose governments have signed trade agreements with the United States,. These individuals will register at branches of U.S.-based employment placement agencies or "Ellis Island Centers" that will be opened in their native country. The centers will maintain a database of employment opportunities in the United States" that have been certified by the Secretary of Labor as having been first offered to American workers.

The Ellis Island Centers will match the potential employee with an available job. Only if the applicant is able to pass a criminal background check and public health screening will a Good Neighbor SAFE Visa be issued. Registration for the program must be made outside of the United States. Those who are now in the U.S. and who wish to participate must first return to their home country to apply and undergo the required background checks.

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The Good Neighbor SAFE Visa will be issued in the form of a secure, tamper proof identification card containing the personal and biometric information of the holder of the card. When fully implemented, the card program will work in tandem with a nationwide employment verification system which will require employers to insure that all employees are legal residents.

The initial length of the visa will be two years and may be renewed by the holder while in the United States after passing an English proficiency exam and again passing a criminal background check. The visa may be renewed five times. At the end of the visa eligibility period, the worker will have the option of applying for a different visa or returning home. When the worker elects to return home and end participation in the pro. , he or she will be able to collect a lump sum payment of the works share of the Social Security tax that had been withheld1J(om his or her paycheck. Participants would not be eligible for welfare or other social services. Withholdings for Medicare will be used to reimburse hospitals for providing medical care to uninsured patient.

If the Good Neighbor SAFE Visa holder has an unblemished record at the end of twelve years of participation in the program, a secure job and an employer sponsor, the card holder will be eligible for a new X -Change Visa, which will allow the worker to stay and work in the United States. At the end of five years -- a total of seventeen years in the United States -- the X-Change Visa holder will have the option of continue to hold an X-Change Visa, returning to his or her native country, or applying for permanent adjustment of status. Seventeen years of continuous employment, coupled with the clearing of numerous criminal background and conduct checks, would provide strong evidence that the individual's contribution to the Nation would continue as a citizen. However, the proposal always offers the option of work without
a path to citizenship.

We have an historic opportunity to repair our immigration system. Congress owes it to the American people to solve, not shrink from, this crisis. Leaders must step forward to help shape this debate. The Hutchison-Pence Border Security and Good Neighbor SAFE Visa program puts border security first and imposes tough penalties on those who knowingly hire illegal workers, but it also recognizes the need for a temporary worker program that operates without amnesty and harnesses the power of the private sector to avoid creating a huge new government bureaucracy. Employers who are unable to fill available jobs with U.S. workers will have a safe and legal means to hire non-citizens.

I appreciate hearing from you and hope you will not hesitate to keep in touch on any issue of concern to you.


Kay Bailey Hutchison