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Stopping Illegal Immigration Starts at the Worksite

Attention Americans, including those in the big white house: The U.S. has an illegal immigration problem.

Three million illegal aliens pour across our Southern border every year. Front-line Border Patrol agents estimate they are only 25% to 33% successful. Last year their efforts resulted in intercepting 1,159,000 illegal aliens. Of those, only 1,640 were adjudicated for deportation and removed. The rest “promised” to return on their own. This means that for every illegal alien apprehended, about two to three more slip across the border, and of those apprehended, most stay in America. What other profession allows a 33% success rate? Certainly not doctors, accountants, cashiers or even lawyers. Why do we allow our federal government to do its job only a third of the time?

Thankfully, our lack of immigration enforcement is finally at the center of the national debate. There are more than enough proposals for the public to digest. Most of them, however, reward immigration lawbreakers with amnesty.

Americans are conditioned to believe that illegal aliens support our workforce, because they take jobs Americans will not do and accept wages Americans will refuse. The reality is, when employers are faced with the decision to hire a legal worker over an illegal worker, it has become a rational decision to hire the illegal.

We do have laws to reduce the problems that stem from illegal immigration—they just aren’t enforced. Although it is illegal in this country to hire illegal workers, the federal government did not sanction a single employer for hiring illegal workers in all of last year. Legislation I introduced this summer, the New Illegal Deduction Elimination Act, or New IDEA, would eliminate the tax deduction employers can take on wages and benefits paid to illegal workers. This policy protects the wages of legal workers and helps the government actually enforce our current laws.

New IDEA

Under New IDEA, if an employer knowingly hires a $10-per-hour illegal worker over a $15-per-hour legal worker, the deductions for wages and benefits to illegals will be denied in an IRS audit, resulting in a tax liability for the employer. The tax liability plus interest and penalty raises the cost of the illegal worker to $16 per hour. At this point, it becomes a rational decision to verify legal status and hire the legal worker.

How do employers hire the right people and not get duped by fake green cards and false Social Security numbers? They can check it right now, instantly, through the Basic Pilot Program, an existing Internet-based program that verifies legal status instantly by searching the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security databases. If employers use this system to verify legal status when hiring workers, they are given safe harbor under New IDEA.

It is clear that employer sanctions are not working, so it’s time to try something new. New IDEA makes our immigration laws enforceable and removes the jobs magnet that draws illegal aliens to the U.S. to work in violation of our laws. It’s simple. If you hire illegal workers, you won’t be able to deduct their wages as an expense on your taxes. There is also a six-year statute of limitations, so the risk of penalty window stays open.

Securing America’s future is our responsibility now. If we allow the current situation to persist, the future of our national, domestic and economic security is seriously at risk. As current policy and enforcement exist today, the American people have lost control of their right and duty to establish national immigration policy and to shape our national destiny.

Written By

Rep. King was elected to Iowa's 5th District in 2002. He sits on the House Judiciary Committee and its Constitution and Immigration subcommittees.

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