Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, Dec. 9, 2005
The House Judiciary Committee yesterday voted down an amendment that would have created a path to citizenship for most illegal aliens before passing a bill to require employers to check employees’ documents to ensure workers are legal.
The bill requires employers to use the Basic Pilot Program, a database that checks whether an employee is using a valid Social Security number. The measure also increases penalties for alien smuggling and addresses problems caused by court decisions that force authorities to release alien criminals if their home countries won’t take them back.
Democrats called the bill ‘atrocious,’ ‘stupid,’ ‘un-immigrant’ and ‘un-American,’ and said it was so bad they wouldn’t even try to fix it by offering many amendments.
‘The stupidity of this bill is that everyone knows this won’t work,’ said Rep. Howard L. Berman, California Democrat. He said it will never pass the Senate because, if it did, it would shut down entire parts of the agriculture, tourism and hospitality industries.
Republicans wanted to pass a bill aimed at enforcement, but Democrats forced a fight over legalizing the estimated 11 million illegal aliens.
Mr. Berman offered an amendment to provide a path to citizenship for illegals, based on part of a bill sponsored in the Senate by John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, and in the House by Arizona Republican Reps. Jeff Flake and Jim Kolbe.
Mr. Sensenbrenner labeled the amendment an amnesty, but Democrats said it requires aliens to pay a fine and continue to work for six years before being granted legal permanent residence. The Democrats said the bill isn’t complete without some legalization program.
Washington, DC – The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., is appalled by the “Border and Immigration Enforcement Act of 2005” (H.R. 4437), a bill introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). Instead of providing a comprehensive, effective approach to immigration problems, the bill is a laundry list of mean-spirited and intrusive provisions concocted by the most radical immigrant restrictionists in Congress.
Among its many provisions, H.R. 4437 would:
—Make it harder for legal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
—Disrupt American communities and put all Americans at risk by broadening the definition of smuggling to include anyone who aids or transports an undocumented immigrant.
—Make everyone who comes to the U.S. to work subject not only to deportation but also imprisonment.
—Disrupt the U.S. economy by creating an overly broad and retroactive employment verification system without creating legal channels for needed workers to work lawfully.
“No one is against security or enforcing the law. But it is an affront to all those in Congress and elsewhere who are working diligently to fix our broken immigration system that House Republicans are proposing laws that are strictly punitive, unduly restrictive, and a waste of taxpayer money. The House Republicans have overreached and are playing with people’s lives for political gain. This is simply unacceptable,” stated Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.
The Sensenbrenner bill is expected to be approved by the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, and the entire House will vote on the measure next week. Other amendments that may be considered next week are a proposal by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), the most anti-immigrant member of Congress, to eliminate birthright citizenship for babies born in the U.S. and an amendment to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.
“These are extreme proposals that do nothing to advance a rational conversation on comprehensive immigration reform,” concluded Murguía. “We look to the Senate to engage in the constructive debate this nation needs to truly solve our very real immigration problems.”