A serious, pro-enforcement measure on border security and immigration control has just passed the House. Three years after I published Invasion, many of the policy recommendations included in the book have been embraced:
The House acted Friday to stem the tide of illegal immigration by taking steps to tighten border controls and stop unlawful immigrants from getting jobs. But lawmakers left for next year the tougher issue of what to do with the 11 million undocumented people already in the country. The House legislation, billed as a border protection, anti-terrorism and illegal immigration control act, includes such measures as enlisting military and local law enforcement help in stopping illegal entrants and requiring employers to verify the legal status of their workers. It authorizes the building of a fence along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border.
But it put off consideration of a guest worker program, which President Bush and many in Congress say must be part of a lasting solution to the illegal immigrant crisis.
The vote was 239-182, with opposition coming from Democrats and some Republicans upset by the exclusion of the guest worker issue and other Republicans wanting tougher border control measures…
… The House bill would beef up border security with the help of local law enforcement and military technology, impose tougher penalties for smuggling and re-entry, and end the “catch and release” policy for illegal non-Mexicans. It makes drunken driving convictions a deportable offense.
The bill makes unlawful presence in the United States, currently a civil offense, a felony. An amendment to reduce the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor was defeated, with many Democrats voting against the proposal in protest over subjecting people who have overstayed their visas to any criminal charges.
The House also voted 273-148 to end the diversity visa lottery program that’s open to countries that send few immigrations to the United States. Opponents said it was susceptible to fraud and could be a way for terrorists to enter the country.
On Thursday, the House approved an amendment calling for construction of a fence in parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
The most sweeping provision of the House bill would require all employers in the country, more than 7 million, to submit Social Security numbers and other information to a national data base to verify the legal status of workers.
The bill is a good start down the road toward true enforcement, but it’s not all it should be. Catch-and-release should be ended for all illegal aliens, not just illegal non-Mexicans. Juan Mann exposes the flaws in the verification provisions over at The Immigration Blog. And the Stein Report points out:
The legislation offers some useful changes by addressing alien smuggling, detention and removal, and curbing of court abuses by illegal aliens. However, it fails to address the fundamental incentives driving illegal immigration. Lenders will continue to issue mortgages to illegal aliens, banks will continue to accept unverifiable consular identification documents, illegal alien families will continue to claim and get the earned income tax credit and other benefits designed for citizens, and the babies of illegal aliens will continue to be given the gratuitous gift of citizenship…
Just received Rep. Tom Tancredo’s statement on passage of the bill, and he rightly calls for vigilance against a backdoor amnesty:
“Today, the House of Representatives passed a bill which strengthens our border security and begins to enforce immigration laws throughout the country. Over the last two days, reformers in the House have accomplished much: we have approved a security fence along our southern border, we have taken steps to end ‘catch and release’ nationwide, we have slashed funds to localities that shield illegal aliens, and we have gone after employers who attract illegal aliens to the U.S.
Some said that we couldn’t do it, that businesses are too addicted to illegal labor, that the problem is too complex for Congress to tackle. When it became clear that the American people’s demand for reform was too loud to ignore, our political foes changed their arguments and hid their intentions behind new language. Suddenly, amnesty was a ‘path to citizenship’, an ‘earned legalization’, or ‘comprehensive reform’. We passed comprehensive reform today: we penalized illegal alien employers and secured our borders.
The fact that Congress was forced to discuss immigration reform in itself is a victory for my allies. Such a victory has been years in the making, and credit is due to the millions of Americans who attended town halls, wrote letters to the editor, called talk radio shows, and even defended the border on their own. I thank them whole-heartedly for their efforts, and I am deeply honored by the support they have shown me and my congressional allies.
Today we savor our victory, but tomorrow we must begin the fight to ensure our victory becomes reality. I am well aware that this is a three-round fight, and while this has been a good round, we haven’t delivered the knockout punch. The open borders lobby and its cronies in the Senate will undoubtedly attempt to attach an amnesty to our reform bill. The American people know what the Senate’s plan is, and they will bring political punishment to any official that favors it. No backdoor amnesty—no matter what you call it—will become law. Americans demand real reform now and, thankfully, they may get it.”
Here’s my April 2003 Hillsdale College seminar speech reprinted in Imprimis: Immigration, the War on Terror and the Rule of Law.
The Guard the Borders Blogburst is hosted at Euphoric Reality.
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