Regarding the Sept. 9 editorial “Immigration impasse”:

The primary reason why our immigration system is broken today is because the laws have gone largely unenforced by past and present administrations. Any successful reform must first guarantee the enforcement of our laws and secure the border. If we don’t achieve this, immigration reform is all for naught. We must also improve our legal immigration system and find a way to fairly deal with unlawful immigrants. 

To achieve these three goals, the House Judiciary Committee has taken a step-by-step approach to reform, embarking on a methodical examination of our system. This will help us avoid the mistakes of the past, namely the 1986 immigration law, and get immigration reform right so that we have a workable system for years to come. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, a majority would rather see the House take a step-by-step approach than take up the Senate immigration bill. 

To date, the committee has convened nearly a dozen hearings on immigration issues, held numerous educational briefings for members of Congress and approved four bills that strengthen enforcement and improve our legal immigration system. We still need to find the appropriate legal status for undocumented immigrants and those who, through no fault of their own, were brought into the United States at a young age by their parents, but we must have enforcement as a prerequisite. It’s most important that we take the time to get reform right rather than rush to pass another omnibus Obamacare-like bill.

Bob Goodlatte, Washington

The writer, a Republican, represents Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District in the House and chairs the Judiciary Committee.