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Senate Republicans’ new point man on immigration said that it is unrealistic to assume that the 10 million illegal aliens in the United States can be deported and that the only alternative is to create a temporary worker program that has them come forward on their own.
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee, also said he thinks new temporary workers from overseas must return home after their work visa ends, but he is skeptical about how successful it would be to have illegal aliens return home before applying for the program in the first place.
“A program that told people you’d have to leave to go apply for it would be viewed as sufficiently punitive that people would say, ‘Look, I’ll just take my chances under the status quo,’ which to me is not good,” Mr. Cornyn told The Washington Times in a recent interview in his office in the Senate Hart Office Building.
“The question is what about people who are here, have been here for 20 years, who have American children born in this country, who maybe have American spouses, and of course, we’re going to need to work our way through that based on current law,” he said.
“In some respects, the closest analogy I can think of is Prohibition. Prohibition was passed, it was a law that did not enjoy the support of the masses, so people found a way to get around it by making gin in a bathtub or whatever, and so then we repealed that law and said ‘OK, the best way to handle this is not to prohibit it but to regulate it,’” he said. “That seems to have worked reasonably well when it comes to alcohol consumption.”
As a Texan, Mr. Cornyn said he opposes both stationing U.S. military forces on the U.S.-Mexico border or trying to build a secure fence along it.
“I know there would be a hue and cry from my constituents in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley if you talked about militarizing the border or building a wall because it would essentially destroy the economy, because trade and lawful commerce would be much too hard to do,” he said.
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(Posted on February 17, 2005)