(CNSNews.com) - The federal government must address illegal immigration and border security or risk the wrath of voters in upcoming elections, congressional Republicans told attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., Thursday.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the consequences of ignoring porous U.S. borders cannot be ignored.
"The federal government simply needs to obtain operational security of our federal border by supplying the people and the technology necessary so that we know who is coming into our country and why they are here," Cornyn said. "We know that the vulnerability that our border has had for all these years can easily be exploited, not just by those who want to enter our country in circumvention of our laws, but [also] by people ... who want to literally kill us."
U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) told Cybercast News Service that the initial steps to ending illegal immigration include enforcing existing laws and closing loopholes exploited by illegal aliens and the employers who hire them.
"For all the critics who say, 'Enforcement doesn't work,' my simple question is, 'How would we know?' We've never even tried it," Hayworth argued. "Let's enforce existing law, close the loopholes that have people gaming our system right now, be willing to put our military on the border, [and] be willing to use the great technology we have to bring it to bear, have adequate interior enforcement and, basically, like my book [title] says, 'Whatever It Takes.'"
Cornyn lamented the alleged incursions into the U.S. by Mexican military units accused of providing protection for drug smugglers. He said federal authorities and local law enforcers must work together to deal with such problems.
"We also need to enlist the help of local and state law enforcement and work with them as partners," Cornyn added, "so that they can assist the federal government in what is primarily a federal responsibility, but one in which they are and must be and are necessary partners."
Open border advocates have criticized the construction of fences along the southern U.S. border, but Cornyn said he supports the use of such barriers.
"What I favor is what I would call a 'virtual wall,' Cornyn explained. "Strategic use of barriers, but also adding, actually doubling the number of federal agents along the border -- Border Patrol -- and using the technology that we use now in Afghanistan and Iraq, like sensors, to detect intrusions and unmanned aerial vehicles to survey the border region so that the Border Patrol, given adequate boots on the ground and given the technology, can identify people coming into our country illegally and make sure that our borders are protected."
U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who has said he will run for the Republican nomination for president if the leading candidates do not explain their plans to control illegal immigration, said some fundamental concepts of U.S. immigration policy must change if the country's borders are to be secured.
"We're the party that should say 'absolutely, no' to this crazy idea that you can sneak into this country and, just by coming across a line in the sand and having your baby, that your baby can be an American citizen. I say no to that," Tancredo said. "We are the party of law and order and we should not compromise that stand by acquiescing to amnesty for those who have broken our immigration laws."
Some legal scholars argue that changing the so-called "anchor baby" policy would require amending the U.S. Constitution because the 14th Amendment begins with the words, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens ..."
During his speech, Tancredo also criticized those Muslims who have committed acts of violence and property destruction in protest over a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons satirizing the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
"We are the party that stands up for free expression around the world and we shouldn't apologize for it no matter how angry that expression may make some people, some religions or some governments," Tancredo added. "And by the way, God bless Denmark."
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