BELTON — U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, held a news conference Monday on the subject of immigration reform.
Carter spoke to members of the media at the Central Texas Council of Governments building in Belton after a meeting with representatives from area businesses and leaders of local evangelical churches. Both groups, Carter said, had questions about legislative efforts to reform the country’s immigration system.
“We have some problems to work out in this area,” said Carter, who serves as the chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. “We’ve been talking about possible solutions.”
Carter’s appearance in Belton comes after members of the U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform bill in July.
Speaking Wednesday, Carter said he believed the Senate bill would not pass in the House, and mentioned his work with a bipartisan group of members to create their own immigration reform legislation.
Carter said the group set out to create comprehensive immigration legislation that addresses multiple areas of the issue.
“Part of what’s wrong with our immigration system is that we keep trying to patch it up,” Carter said. “We need comprehensive reform.”
Reform includes taking into account the needs of business owners, especially in the technology industry, where many companies hire employees from overseas to fill the sector’s jobs.
“We need to make sure that we are able to get the best and brightest and remain competitive,” said Wendy Reilly, director of state government affairs for TechAmerica’s southern region.
Reform also includes tackling the difficult problem of just what to do with the nation’s millions of undocumented immigrants. Carter said part of the group’s reforms would ask them to admit they entered the country without proper documentation.
“We don’t want to reward bad behavior,” Carter said. “They are going to have to admit that they’ve come here illegally.”
While lawmakers in Washington hash out just how to fix the nation’s immigration policy, Carter also called for compassion for those the policy will impact, pointing to the presence of local religious leaders present at the meeting Monday.
“The evangelical community wants to remind people that we are dealing with human beings with families,” Carter said. “They should be treated with respect and compassion.”
Carter also touched on other issues, including the need to strengthen border security. No matter what kind of immigration reform Washington lawmakers do end up passing, Carter noted the importance of making sure the law would be enforced.
“If we do all this work and the (Obama) administration doesn’t enforce the law, we’ve wasted our time,” Carter said.