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Amnesty Bill Opens Border

At a time of sustained mass immigration, a glut of unskilled foreign workers, unrelenting illegal immigration and fiscal overload, Senators John McCain (R.-Ariz.) and Teddy Kennedy (D.-Mass.) propose to flood America with more of the same.

Their Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act (S 1033) creates two supposedly temporary work visas. Those programs are vehicles to legalize all 10 million to 12 million illegal aliens.

The H-5A visa is for unskilled foreigners who can’t get here on any other unskilled work visas, such as H-2A for agricultural work. The three-year H-5A visa, which can be renewed once, puts recipients on a clear path to permanent residence and citizenship.

Initially, 400,000 H-5As are available, with an escalation clause that markedly increases the cap every year for as long as employers want to import cheap foreign labor. The bill pretends that the cap could fall, but it’s designed so that would never happen.

Employers seeking H-5A workers first have to advertise a position for 30 days on a job registry. Few Americans will be able to afford to take the job at the wage offered. So the employer attests to posting the job registry notice, gets a foreign worker and keeps records for a year showing why any American applicants weren’t hired.

An H-5A worker is on the honor system to leave the country if unemployed for more than 60 days. But once he files for a green card, the alien can stay here. H-5As who don’t meet certain admission requirements can buy a waiver for $1,500.

H-5B visas go to all illegal aliens who claim they’ve worked in the United States as of May 12, 2005. The first $1,000 buys up to six years to work here, and the next $1,000 puts them at the front of the permanent residence line, along with spouse and minor children. The bill exempts these lawbreakers from applicable immigration caps.

Illegal aliens have an incentive to give as much information as possible about their illegality on the visa application. The bill prohibits any such information from ever being used against the alien.

The “evidence” that’s supposed to show that the alien illegally worked in America before May 12, 2005, is very flimsy. Pretty much anything, including an affidavit from a friend, will suffice. The standard of proof of illegal work, “a matter of reasonable inference,” also fails the laugh test.

The bill’s smoke and mirrors give the illusion of requiring a penalty for legalization, beefing up the border and stopping an illegal workforce.

In fact, aliens get to keep the job they stole in the first place. They don’t have to worry about most inadmissibility standards. They and their family go to the front of the line, ahead of every legal immigrant. They can in turn sponsor as many family members as they want.

The bill binds the hands of state and local law enforcement from any meaningful role where immigration violations are concerned. States and localities can collect payment for “indirect costs” of illegal aliens, a giveaway program of taxpayer dollars—virtually a reward for sheltering illegal aliens.

Employers who hired illegal aliens also receive amnesty from their felony offense. The bill duplicates a system for confirming employment eligibility that has existed since 1997, but the McCain-Kennedy version relieves employers from having to act when an employee’s eligibility is in doubt. The bill actually makes it unlawful to fire or suspend a “nonconfirmed” (i.e. illegal alien) employee.

In short, the bill amounts to a cruel joke on the American people. There’s no “guest” to its “guestworker” program. It’s all about permanent residence, perpetual wage depression, taxpayer subsidy for those who hire cheap foreign labor and a powerful incentive for even more illegal immigration. It puts amnesty first, enforcement last (or never). n

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James Edwards is coauthor of "The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform."

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