Alexander Hamilton Institute
International Trade

Insourcing Jobs

No More Border Games

By Lou Dobbs
January 31, 2005

President Bush has again vowed to spend his political capital to grant legal
status to the millions of illegal aliens who live and work in this country. The
president rationalizes his guest-worker program by constantly referring to the
nation's need to match willing workers with willing employers. The president's
"proposed reform" has already met stiff resistance from the 109th Congress,
which is apparently ready to finally take on the critically important issue of
illegal immigration.

Many from the president's own party say they'll fight his guest-worker proposal,
and many of our elected officials are finally grasping the importance of
representing the views of working Americans--which, after all, is their
responsibility. The latest USA Today /CNN/Gallup poll shows only 34 percent of
those surveyed approve of President Bush's immigration policies.

"The American people don't want open borders; they don't want amnesty," says
Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican. "It's a message that is beginning to
get through to the Congress. We've just got to get it through to the president."

That message has gotten through to one of the administration's most cheerful and
energetic loyalists on Capitol Hill, Rep. David Dreier of California. After
ignoring the realities of illegal immigration for nearly all of his long tenure
in Congress, Republican Dreier now says he will introduce legislation to stop
American businesses from hiring illegal aliens, using a photo-embedded Social
Security card, which employers would be required to check with a national
database to determine whether the job applicant is legal or illegal.

It is unclear to me just why Dreier believes that any one of the 3 million
illegal aliens who entered this country last year, or the people in businesses
who hire many of them, would turn law-abiding. At this point, while we should
welcome Dreier's conversion, his proposal amounts to nothing more than a
diversion from the profoundly important reforms that must be enacted. We must
take control of our borders, enforce our immigration laws, and ultimately take
responsibility for our first line of defense in the war on terrorism,
specifically our borders and ports.

Until this administration and the federal government can ensure that we have
control of our borders and ports, the Homeland Security Department is simply a
federal bureaucracy indulging in nothing less than a sham, spending billions of
dollars in taxpayer money to game the American people. These shameless border
games must end. And real reform must begin.

That reform, in my opinion, begins at our borders. Here's what real reform
should entail: No matter how much money or manpower is required, we must be able
to control the flow of people and goods across our borders and through our
ports. We must exact heavy penalties on businesses, large and small, as well as
individuals who hire illegal aliens. Not only do illegal aliens cost the nations
tens of billions of dollars in social services, principally in healthcare and
education, but they depress wages for American citizens by an estimated $200
billion a year. American business is exploiting cheap labor and paradoxically
doing so with the blessing and support of national unions.

Skipping taxes. The burden of our failed immigration and homeland security
policies, if they can be called policies, falls crushingly on working men and
women in the form of higher taxes, lower wages, and an all but total lack of
representation by the government they support through their votes and tax
dollars. An estimated 6 million illegal aliens work in the underground economy,
where neither they nor those who employ them pay taxes. That accounts for part
of an additional $400 billion a year in taxes that should be paid to the
Internal Revenue Service. Once again, the middle class is under assault by a
government that is functioning as if it had never heard of the Declaration of
Independence or the Constitution.

In an important recent step, a panel of the most liberal federal appellate court
in the nation upheld Proposition 200, which the people of Arizona voted into law
to counteract the failure of the federal government to enforce long-standing
immigration laws. And GOP Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, chairman of the
House Judiciary Committee, appears to have won the support of the House
leadership and most of his colleagues to begin the process of true reform on at
least a small portion of our immigration policies.

But if the Dreier proposal is given precedence over Sensenbrenner's, we will
have a clear, early indication of whether this House, and eventually the Senate,
have mustered the will to truly represent the national interest instead of the
special interest they've long served in their positions and votes on
immigration. Let's hope the border games are drawing to a close.


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