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Your e-mails: Thoughts on overhauling immigration

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(CNN) -- A "grand compromise" immigration bill suffered a major setback in the U.S. Senate this week.

The bipartisan legislation failed to clear a procedural hurdle Thursday night, stopping progress on one of President Bush's top legislative priorities.

CNN.com asked readers to share their thoughts and ideas on overhauling immigration. Below is a selection of their responses, some of which have been edited for length and clarity:

Jack Pierce of Minneapolis, Minnesota
I'm middle-aged and stuck in the middle of the American Dream. I support immigration -- legal immigration. Part of the dream is the satisfaction of working for what you get. Rewarding illegal behaviors will only gain more illegal behaviors. My view on immigration is simple. Build the wall. Enforce the laws that are on the books. Reverse the numbers and the trend of illegal immigration. Once that is done, revisit the process and standards and make sure we are selecting people who are fit to be citizens of the U.S.

United means leaving your past politics in your previous country. It means understanding and using our national language in business and institutions. We are united in freedom of speech, freedom of religion and in embracing our diverse backgrounds as we focus and build on our commonalities. United also means working hard, like everyone else, and lending a hand (not handouts) when it is needed. Is any of this so complex?

James Creider of Greenville, Texas
Simply enforce the current immigration laws, use prisoners in jails and prisons to do the work that illegals are doing and/or set up a WPA-type program to put the homeless and welfare parasites to work. Prosecute any U.S. employer for employing illegals. Send all illegals home. Show no preference to Mexicans or anyone else illegally entering this country. Quit whining. Just do it.

Joan Weil of Toledo, Ohio
"Illegal" means that they are breaking our laws. Why do we continue to patronize them? Why can't Congress stop worrying about what's best for their re-election campaign and do what's best for the country? We elected them to represent the American people, and they seem to be representing illegal aliens.

Jason Stern of Charlotte, North Carolina
I am so upset that the Senate has allowed this bill to stall. We need to get resolution to this issue. I am all for immigration reform. I am a born U.S. citizen, and I want to see the immigrants in this country be able to stay. Our country was founded on immigrants. The majority of these people are great people who just want the best possible future for themselves and their family. How can we blame/judge anyone who has the passion to improve their life? That is what makes this country so great. Here in the U.S., we will move somewhere else if the opportunity for a better life is presented somewhere else. We need to put this bill back on the floor for debate, and we need to get something passed.

Charles Anderson of Columbus, Ohio
I'm glad that the bill failed. Many senators don't get it. Secure the borders first. Adjust quotas for legal immigrants to permit larger numbers. Do not reward those who came here illegally with legal residency or a path to citizenship. Go after and fine businesses that hire illegals. No jobs/no welfare for illegals will stem the flow of illegals. If they're serious about becoming citizens of our great country, let them apply for citizenship the right way.

Mary deLesdernier of West Chester, Pennsylvania
All they have to do is enforce the rules on the books now. The biggest thing that would solve the problem is seriously prosecute the employers of illegal aliens with huge monetary fines. If you make it more costly to hire illegal aliens with fines, they would start hiring Americans. Don't believe the sorry line that Americans won't take the jobs. Baloney! The problem is the Congress is too weak and is controlled by the unions so Congress isn't going to do the thing that would work. Building a wall and this current fiasco amnesty bill will never work and is just a political move to get more votes (hopefully) from the new legal immigrants and to help unions and illegal alien employers who lobby the Congress with their money and power. Congress is basically corrupt across party lines, and we the American people will suffer.

Senaida Gonzales of Stillwater, Oklahoma
We need [immigrants] and they need us, so where is the problem?

Dovey Woodson of Roeland Park, Kansas
Good riddance to that immigration bill. Once Americans saw what was in it, the majority of us knew it was a losing position for Americans. Why would Congress even attempt to allow illegals the right to a legal path to citizenship. It implies that only Americans better follow the rule of law, others will get a pass.

I also am dismayed that the Senate implies that border enforcement is dead if it did not pass this bill. Border enforcement is already the law and a part of the Constitution, which states one [of] our main mandates is to protect our country from enemies, foreign and domestic. And I do consider illegals enemies of our country due to their lack of respect for our laws. It may be a civil penalty, but it is still a crime. Maybe Congress should change the law to make it a felony to cross or stay in our country illegally.

Margaret Merling of Midland, Michigan
Our immigration laws have worked for hundreds of years, but the government has decided to disregard those laws and pass new ones to accommodate the wishes of other countries. This is unfair and puts too much of a burden on our legal citizens. We need to secure our borders now and make the illegal immigrants adhere to our rules. And I deeply resent having to select which language I want to work with. The U.S. uses English as its language, not as a secondary language. We don't have German, Polish, French, Italian, etc., as a choice, so why should Spanish be a choice?

Fred Bullock of Woodbridge, Virginia
I feel the only right thing to do is to separate out the different goals the Congress was trying to lump together into one bill. Congress needs first to pass a bill just on border security, then a bill on guest workers, then lastly a bill to deal with the illegals in the country. I would also like to point out that Congress needs to stop saying that illegals are doing jobs U.S. citizens won't do and that we can't deport the ones who are in the U.S. illegally. Each time those statements are made, you are basically calling the U.S. and its citizens lazy and incompetent.

Terry L. Sevrence of Wilmington, North Carolina
We need new and strong immigration laws in place to protect our country. But we should not legalize 12 million-plus people who did not follow the laws. If we are to use these people as a labor pool, then we need to set up a better system to allowing them into this county and to make sure they go back home and not stay here unless they apply for citizenship. Most do not want to be U.S. citizens. Keep in mind this has been a huge drain on all our social programs. What about the rest of world? Do they have to follow a different set of rules? Shame on the president and shame on Congress for letting it go this far.

John Snowdall of Griffin, Georgia
Forget about anything else until the borders are totally secure. Once the borders are secure, we can discuss the issue of citizenship, guest workers, etc. Offering the opportunity of citizenship, or whatever decision is made can have meaning only after the borders are secure.


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