Posted on August 23, 2004

Fine Print Of Alien Amnesty

James R. Edwards Jr., Washington Times, Aug. 15

Opinion polls consistently show the vast majority of Americans oppose amnesty for illegal aliens. But some Republicans continue pushing amnesty legislation. In this case, it’s called AgJOBS.

Conservatives whom special interests have snookered into cosponsoring the agriculture amnesty — S. 1645 in the Senate and H.R. 3142 in the House — should read the fine print. In addition to the odious amnesty provisions, this legislation should give thinking cosponsors “buyer’s remorse.”

Though Republicans are the lead AgJOBS sponsors, there is a good reason most cosponsors are liberal Democrats. AgJOBS is liberal legislation.

The euphemism sponsors invoke is “earned legalization.” But amnesty is amnesty, by any other name. Bottom line, alien lawbreakers are rewarded for lawbreaking; they get to keep the jobs they came here to steal.

Amnesty by installments would legalize as many as 3 million illegal aliens supposedly working in agriculture — and their family members. Any foreign lawbreaker qualifies who can make a plausible case against himself that he illegally worked at least 100 hours in any 12 consecutive months. In exchange for a minimum of farm work over six years (112.5 hours per year), these lawbreakers will be given permanent legal residence — a clear path toward citizenship.

As if the joke of “work requirements” isn’t bad enough, AgJOBS also amnesties the unscrupulous employers who have provided illegal employment.

What about the fine print?

—Taxpayer-funded lawyers. AgJOBS adds insult to injury by forcing taxpayers to pay for Legal Services lawyers to counsel the illegal aliens. Any conservative should recall that Legal Services is full of liberal lawyers. They will help legalizing aliens to apply for temporary and permanent residence.

Providing paid counsel in civil proceedings is unnecessary and unwise. It starts down a dangerous slippery slope. It amounts to yet another reward for unlawful behavior. And slapping taxpayers with the bill is outrageous.

The adjustment of status of millions of illegal aliens through layers of processes will take years, if not decades. That is, the inordinate complexity and vagueness will keep taxpayers on the hook for years. It has taken decades to adjudicate the 2.7 million 1986 IRCA amnesty cases. This further clogs the immigration system and causes unnecessary delays and lengthens separations for law-abiding immigrants — a real slap in the face.

—Invitation to fraud. AgJOBS allows illegal aliens seeking amnesty to cite work while “employed under an assumed name,” relies on “just and reasonable inference” this is the person who actually performed asserted work and takes the lawbreaker at his word for the work he claims he did. The bill lets people nowin their home country make amnesty claims.

AGJOBS directs Homeland Security officials sorting out all the amnesty claims to accept affidavits from the illegal aliens. Suddenly believing people who perfected lying and deception defies common sense.

Adding up to 3 million more people to the 6 million backlog of immigration applications at the Department of Homeland Security will feed the urge to cut corners and make quick judgment calls on complex issues. When this happened with the 1986 amnesty, it ensured fraud.

As many as two-thirds of special agricultural worker amnesty applications under the 1986 IRCA were fraudulent. That is how the terrorist Mohammed Abouhalima — a New York cabbie who never worked on an American farm — gained legal status and went on to play a leading role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. AgJOBS sets up the same risky scheme.

—Tort deform. AgJOBS creates a new right to sue. That means more lawsuits, targeted at agricultural employers. H2A visaholders will be able to sue over housing allowances, alleged discrimination, transportation reimbursement, benefits and employment conditions.

Republicans siding with the ambulance-chasers will, by supporting AgJOBS, give immigration lawyers and plaintiffs’ lawyers access to thousands of new clients. Foreign workers “unaware” of their “rights” will become the latest pawns in the hands of unscrupulous lawyers out to make a buck. As usual, expect the unsuspecting plaintiffs to collect little compensation and the lawyers to get richer on their backs.

Meanwhile, agricultural employers will face new legal liability, a new flurry of lawsuits, and be forced to settle even frivolous claims. Employers and consumers will bear higher costs. Those agricultural employers forced into bankruptcy will no longer have jobs to offer the farm workers.

Even the Bush administration, which has proposed its own amnesty, came out in July against AgJOBS.

AgJOBS supporters should reconsider this ill-advised legislation at once.