It’s a Republican alternative to the currently proposed immigration reform and Rep. Peter T. King (R.-N.Y.), ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Rep. Lamar Smith (R.-Tex.), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, hope their “security first-no amnesty” legislation will prove an acceptable alternative to the Kennedy-Bush immigration reform bill. In a Tuesday press conference, the congressmen introduced two new border security and immigration measures, with a focus first on border security.
The Secure Borders FIRST (For Integrity, Reform, Safety and anti-Terrorism) Act emphasizes enforcing current laws in congruency with securing the borders and implementing strict employee verification programs. It also includes conditions to decrease the use of false social security numbers and counterfeit identification papers, protect Americans from criminal aliens, adapt to the needs of the agricultural industry for a seasonal workforce, and to make English then nation’s official language.
“It’s time be resolute, it’s time to show some backbone,” said King.
A compromised immigration reform bill is slated for a vote on the Senate floor this week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the original bill from the floor two weeks ago after it failed a cloture vote and raised strong criticism from hard line Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats.
Since then, opponents and supporters have proposed varying amendments in hopes of finding a middle ground on which to stand.
“One main point of the bill is to end the job magnet by making it exceedingly difficult for illegal immigrants to obtain jobs that should go to American workers,” said Smith. “Together, our resolution and our bill point the way towards an end to the intolerable status quo and toward a future when our laws are both respected and enforced.”
Joined by Immigration Reform Caucus Rep. Brian Bilbray (R.-Calif.), Rep. Randy Forbes (R.-Virg.), Rep. Steven King (R.-Iowa), and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R.-Virg.), Ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, Peter T. King and Smith acclaimed the many positive measures that will result from the bill.
“We decided to take action today rather than wait for the Senate to pass an amnesty bill the American people clearly do not want,” Bilbray said.
The bill caters to a market-based need for temporary agricultural workers through an H-2A Visa program. Those who support the Bush-Kennedy bill often argue on the necessity of low-skill immigrant workers and this aspect of the bill meets that provision.
Bilbray summoned Democrats to support the legislation and “join us…so both parties can get credit for this if we do it right.”
The resolution outlines 12 ways that a lack of law enforcement has substantially increased illegal immigration and how that has detrimentally affected society.
Smith said he believes the majority of the American people are behind the ideas presented in his bill and that illegal immigration can be reduced by making sure the government has the right tools to work with. Those tools are the appropriations in this bill.
“Let’s get back to the basics, stop bleeding at the border,” said Rep. Steven King. “Stop the job magnet.”
Keeping promises made 20 years ago was an overriding theme of Tuesday’s press briefing and the representatives weren’t shy about recognizing the failure of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. That legislation was the culprit behind many of today’s problems because the measurements were never dutifully enforced.
King and Smith both mentioned the pending construction of the border fence and significant lack of border agents in reference to why the Kennedy-Bush bill is untrustworthy. Their legislation capitalizes on these false pledges as “triggers” for why the remaining amnesties and provisions will never take. A severely compromised and strict reform bill is necessary to counteract the failures of the first.
The King-Smith legislation also “eliminates a loophole in current law that allows illegal immigrants to receive Social Security benefits from their illegal work, if they are later legalized.”
Vague measures from an unreliable Administration flourish in the Kennedy-Bush bill, but the Secure Borders FIRST Act lays out specific, dependable legislation that protects American citizens foremost. This is legislation that truly reflects American ideals for immigration reform.