He calls it a 'fair bill' that fixes a broken immigration system.
The US Senate continues its work on immigration reform. The legislation would hire 20,000 new border patrol agents, put 18 drones in the sky for surveillance and construct 350-miles of additional fencing along the US and Mexico border.
Maryland Senator Ben Cardin says he's a bit disappointed in the measure, claiming it's costly with no oversight. "I'm for border security, but I would like to do it in a way that's more balanced. Having said that, I am pleased that we're on the verge of passing a balanced immigration which is desperately needed. Our current immigration system is currently broken and we need to fix it," he says.
The bill would also have a "path to citizenship" for the estimated 12-million undocumented immigrants in the country. Critics have said that this is amnesty for those in the US illegally. "This bill is far from an amnesty," Senator Cardin responds. "The individuals must earn the right to stay in this country. They have to abide by our laws, pay our taxes, learn English."
And even that won't guarantee immediate citizenship, explains Cardin. "They have to be patient and wait, and continue to be employed and self-sufficient for a period of ten years, while the backlog of those who applied properly for legal status has been determined," he said. "After they're earned this right, they have the ability to apply for citizenship."
President Obama has called on Congress to enact immigration reform before going on its recess in August. This legislation is expected to pass the Senate, but its fate is uncertain in the House of Representatives, where there is strong opposition. "The bill is not a Democrat bill, or a Republican bill. It's truly a compromise bill. It's designed by eight members, four Democrats, four Republicans. It's been significantly modified during the legislative process. I think this bill represents the appropriate way this Congress should legislate and solve problems."
Senator Cardin was in Hagerstown on Monday to visit the Volvo Powertrain Factory, and in Frederick to drop in on the Flying Dog Brewery.
On another topic, Cardin says he wants Edward Snowden to come back to the US and face the charges against him. Snowden is a former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed information about two national security programs to the anti-secrecy website Wikileads. "If he was a citizen of Russia, a citizen of China or a citizen of Cuba, he would be thrown in prison for the rest of his life without any opportunities at all," says Senator Cardin. "What he's doing now is showing little credibility for anything that he's done."
Snowden was in Hong Kong for a while, and took a flight to Russia. It's believed he's still in Moscow, after not boarding a flight to Havana, Cuba on Monday, as some believed he would. The head of the Wikileaks website says Snowden is asking for asylum in Ecuador, Iceland or other nations.
"He should come back, stand trial and let the chips fall where they may," says Senator Cardin.