After being apprehended by Border Patrol, illegal immigrants wait to be transported to a central processing center shortly after they crossed the border from Mexico into the United States on Monday, March 26, 2018 in the Rio Grande Valley Sector near McAllen, Texas. - An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, many of them Mexicans or from other Latin American countries.
Loren Elliott—AFP/Getty Images
By Haley Barbour
June 21, 2018

Barbour, a Republican, is a former governor of Mississippi and co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Immigration Task Force.

I am for reforming legal immigration, so that more people who come into the U.S. legally work, pay taxes, contribute to society. We clearly need the labor, and there are a lot of immigrants who entered the U.S. legally who are very successful and are very good for our community and country.

We need to do as much as we can to stop illegal immigration. It’s a crime, and those who commit crimes in the U.S. should be prosecuted.

The answer is to have secure borders and to improve our legal immigration system. People who entered the U.S. illegally but have been good citizens, have not committed crimes, have paid their taxes, have supported themselves—they ought to have an opportunity to be treated just like anybody else who commits a nonviolent crime. They should be put on probation and should have to pay a fine. At the end of that probationary period, if they’ve been good citizens, then they ought to be allowed to get in line to try and get citizenship if they want it.

Those are the solutions. To have an open border is not one of them. Americans don’t want people to commit a crime and to not have to be held accountable. That is in line with American values. If somebody commits a crime, they should have to pay the consequences.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

This appears in the July 02, 2018 issue of TIME.

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