House Republicans formally introduced two border security and immigration enforcement bills this week, both intended to fix what critics call a broken system.
Supporters of H.R. 4313 (the True Enforcement and Border Security Act of 2005) said it will “separate those in Congress who pay lip service to controlling our borders and protecting homeland security, and those who are prepared to address this national crisis in a meaningful way.”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) sponsored the “comprehensive” bill, which was formally introduced on Tuesday.
The legislation would:
—Create a security fence from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico to prevent illegal crossings;
—Deny benefits to illegal aliens, including automatic citizenship for their U.S.-born children.
—Encourage states and local authorities to enforce immigration laws, by making federal relief conditional on how well they cooperate in enforcing immigration law;
—Require the Department of Homeland Security to establish a computerized entry-exit system;
—Authorize thousands of new Border Patrol officers, immigration investigators, attorneys, and immigration judges;
—Increase penalties and prevent employers from hiring illegal aliens through an improved Social Security identification card and verification system;
—Prevent illegal aliens from claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit and collecting Social Security;
—Increase penalties for forging immigration and identity documents, and falsely claiming U.S. citizenship, and alien smuggling.
Supporters of the bill said it eliminates the incentives and loopholes that have allowed an estimated 11 million people to settle illegally in the United States.
“Mass illegal immigration is a very solvable problem. What has been lacking until now is the political will to set and enforce policies that prevent businesses from profiting from illegal aliens and convince the aliens that the United States no longer will put up with their illegal presence,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
FAIR commended Reps. Hunter and Goode for their “courageous leadership” on border and immigration issues.
“Support for this bill will be the litmus test for any member of Congress who claims to be serious about regaining control of our borders,” Stein said. “Those who are prepared to end the rewards for breaking our immigration laws and provide the needed tools for enforcement will back this legislation.”
A second bill, The Border Security and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2005, was formally introduced Monday night by Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
H.R. 4312 also would boost security along America’s borders and ensure the removal of all aliens who attempt to enter the United States illegally.
“The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11th made it clear that our nation must be more aggressive in preventing terrorists from entering the United States,” King said.
“This bill recognizes the need to bolster our border security capabilities by authorizing more funding for Border Patrol agents, utilizing physical barriers and state-of-the-art technologies, and promoting international policies that will help deter illegal immigration and protect valid claims of asylum.”
The main provisions of the Border Security and Terrorism Prevention Act include:
—Tighter control of borders and ports (enhanced Border Patrol operations, including military support; physical barriers, state-of-the-art technology; more port-of-entry inspectors);
—Elimination of the “catch and release” practice, including mandatory detention of aliens who cross illegally;
—Streamlining operations within the Homeland Security Department’s border security agencies;
—Promoting both international and domestic policies that will deter further illegal entry into the United States.
“The so-called ‘catch and release’ practice in particular represents a very real danger to our homeland security efforts,” King said.
“This year alone, approximately 115,000 illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico have been apprehended by the Border Patrol, only to be released due to a lack of detention space. That includes foreign nationals from all over the globe, including the Middle East. This practice must come to an end,” King said.
The House Committee on Homeland Security will begin marking up H.R. 4312 on Wednesday.
Calling proposed state legislation to bar illegal immigrants from attending public schools or receiving other government services “worse than Jim Crow,” experts on immigration say national reform is the only solution to curbing illegal immigration without crippling the economy.
House Resolution 256, sponsored by a group of north Georgia lawmakers who’ve seen a massive influx of Hispanics into area carpet mills and poultry plants in the past decade, would deny illegal immigrants access to public education and health care, and require local police to enforce immigration laws.
If it passes the state legislature and is approved by voters next year, it would create a permanent state of discrimination worse than what blacks faced prior to the 1960s, said Paul vom Eigen, an economist with the Mexican-American Legal and Education Defense Fund.
“At least then, people of color had access to education,” even if only at often inferior and segregated schools, vom Eigen said.