Praise, Disappointment for Pence's Plan

Two key conservatives in the immigration reform debate have weighed in with their takes on Rep. Mike Pence’s (R.-Ind.) idea for a middle ground between amnesty and mass deportation. And not surprisingly, Pence has a new friend on Capitol Hill today and perhaps a new enemy as well.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R.-Ariz.), who sits in the McCain-Kennedy camp on this issue, was out with a statement praising Pence shortly after he finished the speech.

“Conservative principles and a temporary worker program are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe that supporting a comprehensive temporary worker program is the conservative position.”

“Hopefully, having Congressman Pence, who’s one of the leading conservatives in Congress, articulate the conservative case for a temporary worker program will add a new dynamic to the immigration reform debate and bring us closer to consensus.”

However, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.) had nothing nice to say. As chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, Tancredo carries much respect with conservative activists. Here’s his full statement:

“Mike Pence is making the same mistakes that the President has, using the straw man of mass deportations and redefining amnesty to suit his interests. Unfortunately, like the President, Pence is breaking from House conservatives who remain steadfast in their support of a security-first approach to immigration,” said Tancredo.

Pence’s plan would require illegal aliens to return to their home countries to apply for a new ‘W’ worker visa. Employers could hire as many foreign workers as they want under the W visa, and, in practice, they would likely hire the same workers who they employed illegally before. Pence wants to start the new foreign worker program before border security is even proved effective, which is the same strategy that was used in the 1986 amnesty. Twenty years later, the U.S. got amnesty as promised but no border security.

“Pence’s W visa is aptly named. It gives the Administration exactly what it wants: unlimited foreign workers first, enforcement later or never,” said Tancredo. “Pence’s plan is just the 1986 amnesty with a trip home tacked on.”

The Pence plan includes no prevailing wage standard for foreign workers—it simply relies on the good will of employers to “try to hire American workers” before offering jobs under the new foreign worker visa. In fact, almost all current visas require employers to offer the job to American workers before seeking foreign labor, but with no enforcement mechanism, the requirement is laughable.

“The House’s strategy in H.R. 4437 was to fix the illegal alien problem by enforcing the law. Over time, as illegal workers cannot obtain jobs, they go home because they have no other option open to them. Pence takes a much different approach: fix illegal behavior by legalizing it,” said Tancredo. “As a conservative and a friend of Mike Pence, I am baffled by his shift on immigration. I hope he reconsiders his position and returns to an enforcement-first position.”


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