The question of immigration reform won't be resolved without addressing the issue of illegal immigration first, South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune said Sunday, noting that won't happen without both parties in Congress coming together on a plan.
The last-minute House bill that was passed Friday
addresses the flow of immigrants and slows it down, Thune told NBC's "Meet the Press."
However, he said, lawmakers are going to lose the trust and confidence of the American people unless they work together in the House and Senate to resolve the border crisis.
"Most people realize it's a reasonable condition we can't sustain, what's happening at the border right now," Thune commented. "We have to deal with the issue of immigration."
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And he agrees with Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who said recently that the problems with illegal immigration must be solved first.
"That means border security," said Thune, who appeared on the program with New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez. "That means building strategic fences and having an E-verify program and an entry and exit program that ensures our borders are secure."
But Americans are frustrated with the "dysfunctional" Congress and the constant Washington gridlock, said Thune. The Senate did not pass a border security bill before it left for its August recess, and it has rejected many bills sponsored by the Republican-controlled house.
"Wages are flat, unemployment is high," said Thune. "Everything from gas to food to health care costs more for the American people. You can't address that situation if you don't vote."
He charged that Senate Democrats are more interested in casting votes that would help them win elections "than they are for winning jobs for the American people. That's got to change."
Also on Sunday, the South Dakota senator addressed the issues surrounding Israel, including international opinion growing against the Jewish nation.
There is bipartisan support for legislation to provide funding for Israel's "Iron Dome," which is credited for keeping many of the Hamas militant organization's rockets from hitting Israeli targets.
But he also thinks the operation should end quickly once Israel is able to destroy tunnels and stop rocket launches from hitting its communities.
"Hopefully we can get to a place where we're actually discussing a solution, long-term solution to the situation there in that region of the world," said Thune. "We've got to defend and support Israel's right to defend its own citizens from this constant hammering rocket attacks, these tunnels bored into their country...we've got to support Israel until they get this job done."
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