“Immigration reform is critical to our economy, our security and our sense of self as a nation.
“This debate is about the type of country we want to be, what we stand for, and what type of future we all want to build. It's easy to get caught up in the specifics of one policy or another, but we can’t lose sight of the bigger picture because this debate touches nearly every aspect of American life – from our economy to our security, from our classrooms to our workplaces.
“Since September 11th, our National Guard members have been asked to tackle many difficult challenges on behalf of our nation and they have answered the call with professionalism and honor time and again.
“However, I remain concerned that calling in the National Guard is this Administration’s answer to almost everything – from Iraq and Afghanistan to Hurricane Katrina, and now to combat illegal immigration. And, all the while, this Administration has consistently failed to provide the resources necessary for these brave men and women to be properly equipped for their missions.
“Using National Guard forces to augment our border security is not a long term solution. Like the war in Iraq, it is unclear how long the President expects to keep our troops along the border, and what will happen when and if they ever leave. We need a real, comprehensive, immigration and border security solution – not another band-aid to get us through the rest of President Bush’s term.
“I also believe that any bill we pass has to treat the Northern border fairly. I was disappointed that the President didn’t even address that need this evening. Washington is a border state, and we know the dangers of an insecure border. For years, I have fought federal policies that steered critical resources away from the Northern Border to the Southern Border. Our border communities have struggled with inadequate staff, equipment and facilities.
“Washington state has a lot at stake in the debate over immigration reform. That’s why I believe we need a holistic, tough and fair approach that includes strong enforcement, Northern Border equity and a path to citizenship.
“Enforcement is important. Securing our borders is important. But if we leave out things like education and job training, and if we ignore the tools that families need to rise above their circumstances and build a better life, we’ll be throwing away the ladders of success that generations of Americans have relied on to make their families and our country stronger.
“My ideas are based on my personal experiences, on people who have shared their life experiences with me, and on the unique perspective that Washington state provides.
“There’s a lot of pressure to "do something" about immigration especially in an election year. But if we do the wrong thing, it will have a painful effect on millions of families, on our economy, and on our future for generations to come. We need to take the time to get it right.”