AGJOBS is legislation only a liberal could love. Yet, conservative Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) its sponsor, has now moved to take his bill straight to the floor. This bill to legalize illegal aliens working in American agriculture helped to stall much-needed class action reform from coming before the Senate in July. Craig tried to attach AGJOBS to the legal reform bill. He has vowed to offer this legislation to every bill the Senate moves the rest of the session, despite Bush administration opposition. Craig brokered the bill-writing among agriculture lobbyists, immigration lawyers and the ethnic identity lobby. Farm lobbyists in Washington have told farmers, many of whom oppose amnesty, that amnesty is the price to get farm worker visa programs fixed. Although Republicans are the chief sponsors of this amnesty bill (most cosponsors are liberal Democrats), AGJOBS is nothing more than a deal with the devil — its larger and smaller provisions reflecting the handiwork of liberals. S. 1645 and H.R. 3142 (sponsored by Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah)) contain odious amnesty provisions. AGJOBS would grant upwards of 3 million illegal aliens a â€œmultistep, jackpot reward amnesty.â€ The jackpot is the permanent right to remain in America. That is, lawbreakers would get an initial reward for their lawbreaking, a legal work permit and legal permission to stay here. Later, they receive permanent U.S. residency. They even gain the right to become U.S. citizens! In other words, lawbreakers and their dependents are rewarded precisely because of their lawbreaking. They stole American jobs and are â€œpunishedâ€ by getting to keep those same jobs. Ideally, these lawbreakers should go to prison and have to pay back the wages they stole. They should never be eligible to reenter the country and certainly should not bring over more of their family members. Why are 800,000 illegal aliens working in American fields and orchards? Because special interests have hijacked the system and made it easier to hire illegal aliens than to get a legal workforce. A million illegal aliens entering the United States each year flood the unskilled labor market and have depressed farm wages terribly. With readily available cheap foreign labor, agriculture lacks a market incentive to raise wages and improve benefits, much less to invest in innovation and mechanization. Under this amnesty on the installment plan, any foreign lawbreaker who can claim that he has illegally done farm work of 100 hours in any 12 consecutive months would qualify. The bill defines a â€œdayâ€ as one worked as little as an hour! He simply has to work in agriculture 360 hours total over six years in order to get permanent legal residence. AGJOBS adds insult to the injury of amnesty. The bill forces American taxpayers to pick up the tab for Legal Services lawyers. The activist lawyers will aid legalizing aliens at each step of the amnesty path to citizenship. Of course, giving paid counsel in civil proceedings is completely unnecessary. It is one more reward for unlawful conduct. Sticking taxpayers in this way goes too far. It will take years, even decades, for millions of illegal aliens to adjust status through the several layers of procedures. The extreme complexity and vagueness of facts involved are guaranteed to cost taxpayers dearly and indefinitely. The immigration system will unnecessarily face 3 million more people in its backlog, delaying and lengthening the separations of legal immigrants. AGJOBS says illegal aliens seeking amnesty may claim credit for work performed while â€œemployed under an assumed name.â€ It calls for â€œjust and reasonable inferenceâ€ that the alien actually did the asserted work. It takes the lawbreakerâ€™s word for whatever he claims in an affidavit. People who have now returned to their home country can seek amnesty — and reentry — under AGJOBS. A swelling backlog of immigration applications will lead to bureaucrats cutting corners and making faulty decisions. This happened with the 1986 amnesty, ensuring fraud. Two-thirds of special agricultural worker applications for a 1986 amnesty were fraudulent. Terrorist Mohammed Abouhalima was one such fraud. He secured legal status, then got involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Abouhalima was a New York cabbie who never worked in agriculture. AGJOBS also gives foreign workers new rights for filing lawsuits against agricultural employers. Foreign farm laborers could sue over such things as housing allowances, alleged discrimination, transportation reimbursement, benefits and employment conditions. Helpful lawyers will switch from chasing ambulances to chasing tractors. More lawsuits will mean higher costs, fewer jobs, more bankruptcies and lawyers laughing all the way to the bank. The Bush administration, which advocates its own amnesty, opposes AGJOBS. So should thinking lawmakers, agricultural special interests and those who truly have Americaâ€™s best interests at heart.
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