The immigration debate is missing the point

If we believe in freedom and opportunity, the current immigration bill is the antithesis.

Government has already taken from small business their right to control their private property and the health benefits they offer their employees. It will now encourage their employees to sue them and even show them how.

Now the government proposes to take over the entire foreign labor market. Employers cannot determine for themselves their foreign labor needs or the wages they can pay. There is no role for market forces or for the private sector. It is government, government, and more government ??? stepping into most small businesses telling owners who to hire, under what terms, and at great cost to the owners and to the American taxpayers. This bill is rife with special deals for special groups: lawyers, unions, big business and agriculture, among others, making a mockery of fairness and the concept that all men should be equal under the law. This huge expansion of government is yet another chain around the ankle of American small business.

The major flaws in the current bill are twofold. Foremost, for people already here illegally, there is only one path to legality ??? applying for citizenship. There is no path to legality for people who want a simple work permit and have no intention of becoming citizens. A work permit should require only two things: pass a national security database check and prove you have a self-supporting job. Instead, this bill grants immediate legal status to 11 million people already in the U.S. illegally ??? before they undergo a background check and without any job requirement. And they are put on a direct path toward citizenship, no matter how onerous the process is, or how long it takes.

The second major flaw relates to the future flow of workers. The government will continue to set caps on the number of visas based on ???research??? and unemployment figures. The projections already written into the bill are grossly inadequate, just as they are today, and will perpetuate foreigners coming across our borders illegally to fill jobs, and employers hiring them illegally to keep their doors open. Increasingly, government is deciding which businesses and even whole industries will be allowed to succeed and which it will cause to fail through these caps. This is the new face of tyranny.

The bill is filled with new and expanded bureaucracy. For example, the new agency it would create to determine the work visa caps for each industry is completely unnecessary. If the government wants to know how many workers are needed by each business, it should simply look at the jobs employers post on the new database, and count them.

Green cards and citizenship are the business of government, but hiring and firing workers is a business decision. That???s why simple non-immigrant work permits ??? with no citizenship involved ??? must be based on employer demand and implemented in the private sector. No bill being discussed addresses this obvious problem. If we still believe in freedom, opportunity, and limited government, Congress must reject this overpowering role of government, and recognize the vital role of businesses and individuals in immigration reform.

Helen Krieble chairs the Center for Opportunity, Protection and Fairness.