Time for an Immigration-Enforcement Bill

Dana Rohrabacher, Washington Times, Dec. 14, 2005

The House is about to debate—and hopefully pass—an immigration enforcement bill, HR 4437. It’s about time.

Let’s start the debate by dispatching the biggest myth: “Americans won’t do certain jobs, that’s why we have to import foreign labor.” There are no jobs Americans won’t do. No matter how physically difficult, intellectually challenging or personally dangerous an occupation might be, Americans will do the job that needs to be done—provided the compensation is right.

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With decent wages and health benefits big, medium and small businesses can find plenty of citizens or legal immigrants to take almost any job. But that isn’t necessarily in the interests of the current captains of American industry. Elite business executives pay themselves enormous salaries and stock options, even when they fail. The ratio between what is paid employees and what is channeled into the pockets of top executives is totally out of sync with past pay differentials in our country. Yet these very same patronizing executives, who pay themselves colossal sums, say they can’t afford to pay their employees a living wage and thus import foreigners to do the work on the cheap. And if foreigners aren’t around sometimes they are brought in either legally, through the H1B visa program, or even illegally. Just recently Tysons Company executives were found guilty of collaborating with coyotes to smuggle illegal aliens across the border. Some employers, of course, claim a shortage of educated or trained Americans to fill available tech related jobs. That’s when H1B visas are called for as if there were no alternative, but that’s not true. A shortage of educated labor doesn’t mean we need to bring in more foreigners, it means we need to educate, train and motivate our kids. Bringing in foreigners depresses the pay level for such tech jobs and that is certainly no way to encourage young people to study science, engineering or mathematics, rather than become lawyers.

Furthermore, without taking the easy path of bringing in foreigners to do tech jobs a number of those jobs could be filled by training disabled people. Yes there would be a cost involved in such training and in redesigning the workplace but the disabled will never get it if we flood our tech market with young, healthy, cheap workers from India, Pakistan or China.

HR 4437, to its credit, at least partially addresses big business’ addiction to foreign labor by preventing them from “gaming” the labor market by unlawfully bringing in and taking advantage of illegal immigration. By demanding all businesses use the Basic Pilot Verification Program and verify every employee they hire is in the country legally, we will end the “wink and nod” system of hiring those with forged documents.

This is certainly a step in the right direction but HR 4437 could have been much stronger by eliminating another huge magnet for illegal immigration: public education, welfare and health benefits.

By providing a free education and free emergency-room health care, we attract enormous numbers of illegal immigrants from all over the world. By not addressing this issue, H.R. 4437 leaves intact a major draw for illegal aliens to do everything in their power to get into the land of plenty, so their families can receive a treasure of benefits.

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Unless House Republicans come to their senses and stop a politically miscalculated rush to judgment on immigration reform, Dec. 15 may end up being a bittersweet date in our history. It will be remembered as the day Iraq moved to proclaim its sovereignty through legislative elections at the same moment America began surrendering its own.

House leaders have scheduled a fateful vote for tomorrow that will render America’s borders and immigration laws—thus its sovereignty—meaningless. The vote will set our nation on an almost irreversible course toward the enactment of a guest-worker amnesty plan that will legitimize the invasion of the more than 10 million illegal aliens already here and open our borders to unknown millions more.

The scheme is a classic bait-and-switch. First, pass a supposed “get-tough” enforcement bill in the House on Dec. 15 so members can head home feeling they’ve “done something” about illegal immigration. Second, let the Senate add a guest-worker amnesty plan to the bill in conference early next year. Finally, bring this completely different and deeply flawed bill back to the House for final passage.

The only way to derail this scheme is to postpone House action this year and return in 2006 to engage in the complete, thoughtful, public deliberation that a subject of such extraordinary consequences to our nation’s future deserves. Acting alone if I must, but preferably in concert with House Republicans and Democrats justifiably outraged and alarmed by the high-handed legislative manipulation that is going on, every legislative tool available to us must be employed to stop this runaway process in its tracks tomorrow.

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Perhaps most distressing is the message from Republican leaders, like RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, that we need to pass a guest-worker plan because “it’s good politics.” It is never good politics to do the wrong thing for your country, and a guest-worker program is wrong for America. It is based on the same defeatist notion—we can’t stop it so we might as well legalize it—used by proponents of legalizing drugs and prostitution. Legalization hasn’t worked for those vices, and it won’t work for illegal immigration either.

If we allow a guest-worker program to pass, it will be 1986 all over again—amnesty first, enforcement never, and an unending wave of illegal immigration. Strict enforcement is the only way to stop illegal immigration. Sadly, that won’t happen until the White House and congressional leaders stop seeing illegal immigration as a political problem to be finessed rather than an invasion to be stopped.

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