“People shouldn’t have to pick up and leave,” he said. “But the punishment has to fit the crime. The punishment could be several different things.”
Rokita said immigration reform is not about enforcing the laws at the borders because that only solves a portion of the problem.
“There are a lot of people overstaying their visas,” he said. “We need to overhaul how we monitor people who are here as our guests.”
Rokita said Indiana residents spend a lot of money at Purdue University and Indiana University Kokomo educating people from other countries. He said students receiving degrees in science, technology, education or mathematics should be encouraged to remain in the U.S.
“If you get a degree in one of those areas we want you to stay and start working on your citizenship,” he said.
Rokita said there has to be a national discussion on immigration reform and indicated he is keeping an open mind.
“The first part is we have to seal the border,” he said. “We then have to use technology to track, monitor and communicate with people here as our guests. We should know where they’re at.”
When asked about the backlog within the Veterans Administration when it comes to benefits for disabled members of the military, Rokita said as a member of the House Budget Committee, the numbers are scary.
“We need to keep our promises to veterans,” he said. “There is a lot of waste in the VA.”
Rokita said the nation doesn’t adequately account for the cost of war and the ongoing benefits for veterans who need medical services.
“The rate of disability among American men and women is higher in Iraq and Afghanistan than in other wars,” he said. “We need to keep our promises to those people.”