Sen. John Cornyn's call to go beyond words and create a "credible and compassionate" solution to fix our broken immigration system provides supporters of comprehensive immigration reform efforts in Congress with a rare, bipartisan opportunity: We should take him up on it.
Unfortunately, although his recent overtures and sensible tone on this subject are very welcome, his actions in Congress directly contradict them. In fact, time after time that an opportunity (under both the Bush and Obama administrations) has presented itself for Cornyn to vote for bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform compromises, he has voted against them.
In order for his call to be credible and his compassion to be measurable, he must back up his words with coherent actions. Here's how.
First, Cornyn, should acknowledge the bipartisan commitment of the Obama administration and Congress to increase border security. He should join us in applauding Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for traveling to our state of Texas, addressing our students at the University of Texas at El Paso, and showing the measurable results of our collective efforts to secure the border.
Doubling the size of our Border Patrol and Security Task Forces, dispatching 1,200 National Guard troops and allocating more than $700 million in grants and resources to the southwest border has resulted in stemming illegal immigration into the United States. We are also seizing more illegal cash, weapons and drugs on our borders than ever before.
And second, he must go beyond talking about solutions, and actually work with us to obtain them. As chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, I look forward to meeting with him to develop a comprehensive immigration reform package.
For years we've worked with clergy, business leaders and advocates to develop a comprehensive plan to fix our immigration system -- one that will reestablish the rule of law -- and includes provisions like the DREAM Act, mandatory employment verification of all job seekers, the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act, and a requirement for all immigrants to come out of the shadows, pay taxes and go through a criminal background check.
We believe most of these items are things we can all agree on, but we are willing to discuss changes in an effort to pass legislation this Congress.
Questioning whether the president's "heart" is in immigration reform does not prove the senator's commitment to solve one of our country's most untenable problems. His skeptics are right to question his words. But if Sen. Cornyn backs them up with actions, we can all start to believe that his heart is committed to solving this problem and work together to provide Texans, and all Americans, with the results they deserve.
Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez (TX-20,) is Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.