What Part of Illegal Don't Senators Understand?

When offered the opportunity to take a stand and defend the rule of law principles our country was founded upon, lawmakers in the Senate gave into political pressure and betrayed the American people.  The “grand bargain” announced by Sen. Kennedy, Bush Administration officials and other “friends” will do more to encourage illegal immigration activity in America than any other policy that preceded it.  Now, the only hope to prevent such an amnesty from moving forward is for the American people to put the pressure on Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate.

You would think that Congress would learn from the failures of the past.  We’ve all seen how the ’86 amnesty became a gateway for illegal immigration.  What was promised as a one-time fix that would be matched with real employer enforcement and commitment to securing the border resulted in a public policy nightmare we are almost doomed to repeat.  Why anyone thinks that repeating the failed policies of years gone by is the solution to this out-of-control problem is beyond me. 

In the first day and half that followed Mr. Kennedy’s announced amnesty plan, my offices in San Diego County and Washington D.C. were flooded with outraged phone calls from across the country pleading with me to do something to stop this bill from becoming law.  My message to them and to everyone else in America is to call your Congressman, call your Senator and hold their feet to the fire. 

Make a phone call, mail a letter, send a fax or an e-mail — just let your elected leaders know that an ‘aye’ vote for amnesty is no vote in November!  Some will say that this “compromise” isn’t an amnesty.  They’ll say that it isn’t possible to deport 12-20 million illegal immigrants.  They will tell you that this bill will secure the border and hold employers accountable.  Don’t for one second believe them. 

We’ve heard it all before.  We’ve been down that road before.  Where has it gotten us?  Our borders aren’t secure.  Out Border Patrol is overwhelmed.  For every illegal immigrant they apprehend at the border, two or three slip by them.  The National Border Patrol Council says the Kennedy-Busy plan “falls woefully short…and needlessly jeopardizes the security of this Nation.” 

There is so much wrong with the Kennedy-Bush bill I don’t even know where to start.  The basis of this plan is to create a new category knows as the Z visa for the 12-20 million illegal immigrants who are currently in our country.  That’s right — the solution to illegal immigration is establishing a special program for illegal immigrants to come forward, acknowledge they have broken our laws and to stay here while they begin to move ahead on a path to citizenship.  This will certainly send the message that we’re starting to get tough on illegal immigration.  While millions of people around the world wait patiently to enter our country legally, the 12-20 million illegal immigrants currently here will get to stay here, work and enjoy the benefits of living in the United States.  

Supporters of this proposal tout the promise to add 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, 200 miles of vehicle barriers at the border and 370 miles of border fencing.  The White House says “an Employment Eligibility Verification System must be ready to process new hires before the Z visa and temporary worker programs go into effect.”  The plan calls for a “trigger” that would have to be authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) certifying that these security and verification benchmarks have been met before any of the new visas could be issued. 

Sunday’s Washington Post editorial framed it well, all DHS has to do is “hire, train and deploy 5,000 to 6,000 additional Border Patrol agents, bringing the total force to 18,000.  Hire, train and deploy thousands more civilian workers who would begin registering an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country, and provide the technical and logistical capacity to do that, including registration centers, electronic fingerprinting, etc.  Erect 370 miles of fencing along the Mexican border.  Develop and implement a comprehensive worker-verification system that would enable employers to quickly check on whether a job applicant is in the country legally.  Oh, and by the way, the deadline for all that would be the end of 2008.”

This from an organization so caught up in its own bureaucracy that it has lost track of 600,000 foreign fugitives, failed to implement the REAL ID program and has turned the US-VISIT program into the stay in the United States indefinitely project.  Given their track record, I can see why the Senate and the White House would have DHS be in charge of authorizing border security and employer verification.

Thankfully, there is still time left.  Congress has an opportunity to make the right choice, not the political one.  The only thing that could escalate and exacerbate the current problem is to repeat the failed policies of the past by granting legal status and citizenship opportunities to illegal immigrants.  When amnesty was granted to millions of illegal immigrants in 1986, it was done so with the promise of securing the border and enforcing the law.  Twenty-one years later, that promise has been broken and the problem has multiplied.  The interior enforcement provisions of the ’86 amnesty were never implemented.

Perhaps it would do us all some good to heed to warnings from our Border Patrol officers.  The President of the National Border Patrol Council said, “Every person who has ever risked their life securing our borders is extremely disheartened to see some of our elected representatives once again waving the white flag on the issues of illegal immigration and border security.  Rewarding criminal behavior has never induced anyone to abide by the law, and there is no reason to believe that the outcome will be any different in this case.”