Sunday, April 16, 2006

Illegal Immigration – Part II : Work Program or Amnesty?

The House and the Senate disagree even more when it comes to handling the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States. House Bill HR 4437 enforces the current laws prohibiting the hiring of illegal immigrants and adds significant penalties to the businesses found to be violating statutes created more than twenty years ago. “This legislation will demand that people follow the law and be held accountable for their actions,” Congressman Sensenbrenner, the Bill’s author, said.

The result of the House Bill will be the removal of job opportunities, welfare and health care benefits, driver’s licenses, and educational benefits for all illegal immigrants. And, it will add significant penalties for those involved in human smuggling. It does not address the issue that individuals sent home would be able to re-enter legally to obtain a work visa, but the concept has certainly been supported by House members responsible for writing and passing the Bill.

On the other hand, the legislation sent to the floor of the Senate by the Judiciary Committee, with the approval of Senator Mike DeWine, two other Republicans, and the Committee’s entire Democratic delegation (including Senator Ted Kennedy), does not discuss controlling the border and offers a “work program” leading to American citizenship in the future. Careful not to use the “a” word, the Judiciary Committee must have felt that Americans would not see through their thinly veiled attempt to accomplish just that – amnesty for people who have broken our Nation’s law and then rewarding them with citizenship.

Some versions discussed in the Senate would allow the illegal immigrants work in the U.S. for a specified number of years and then be required to go back to their homeland. First, how cruel would it be to permit people to become assimilated into the fabric of our society – develop friends and relationships in our communities, neighborhoods, schools, and churches while benefiting from our public services and health care – and then tell them they must leave because the sands in the clock have run out? Second, do you really expect that anyone in our government will seek out these individuals and families in six to eight years and force them to leave? I believe we all realize that will not happen and the result will be another form of amnesty.

The United States operates under the “rule of law” as a means to keep an orderly society for the benefit of all her citizenry, and that rule of law begins to apply with the first step on our soil. If illegal entry is the basis of one’s presence in the country, then it has been clearly established that rules/statutes/laws mean nothing if they impede the individual’s own desires. If such an attitude becomes prevalent, then anarchy will surely follow and the fabric of our society will be destroyed.

I applaud the House for recognizing the difficult decisions that needed to be made and taking the required action. I abhor the Senate’s flagrent attempt to pander to a specific group rather than enforce the immigration and work laws which were enacted many, many years ago by representatives of “we the people….”


William G. Pierce, P.E.

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