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Ventura County Star - No Real Enforcement Under ‘Amnesty Bill'

News Article

Date: June 13, 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Immigration

By Elton Gallegly

The illegal immigration amnesty bill that has stalled, but is not yet dead, in the Senate fails the American people for many reasons. For brevity, I'll just touch on a few that have not been highlighted in the media.

As we know from past amnesties, successive administrations have watered down and then failed to enforce even the watered-down enforcement provisions.

For example, the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act required federal agencies to share information with the then-Immigration and Naturalization Service concerning illegal immigrant status. Despite this, the IRS and Social Security Administration have ignored multiple workers using the same Social Security number or cases where the numbers did not match the names.

In 2005, the Social Security Administration sent 9.6 million letters to workers whose Social Security numbers were questionable. But it took no further action. Nor did the IRS, nor INS.

Who would be surprised if federal agencies found another creative interpretation to avoid enforcing the law?

While it's unlikely the penalties in the Senate bill actually would be enforced, if they were, the question arises: Would the bill dissuade future illegal immigration?

The answer is no. It will encourage it because, once again, we're giving amnesty to all who broke our immigration laws, no matter how severely or how recently. It's an invitation to future abuse.

The current bill also:

Would give amnesty to most who have already been ordered deported but have defied that order, otherwise known as absconders.

Purports to reward those who have established themselves over many years in the United States, but grants amnesty to anyone who arrived prior to just five months ago.

There are approximately 623,000 absconders loose in the United States. These fugitives know that despite being ordered deported, their chances of being caught and actually removed from the United States are slim. The Senate bill gives them more reason to remain out of sight. Under the bill, many absconders would be granted amnesty and even granted a path to citizenship.

And let me point out that it's not easy to get a deportation order. Being a habitual offender isn't enough. The three brothers who were arrested in the Fort Dix terrorist plot are illegal immigrants and habitual offenders, but they never received a deportation order. In fact, it has been the policy of the U.S. Attorney's Office not to formally deport an illegal immigrant even with two felony convictions.

Absconders would join those who haven't broken the law since breaking the one to enter or remain in the United States, and, therefore, would be eligible to obtain a Z visa. To be eligible for a Z visa, an illegal immigrant would have to demonstrate that he or she has a job or is the spouse, parent or child of someone with a job.

As I noted, the bill is being sold on the premise that we are "normalizing" those who have sunk roots into U.S. soil, but they would only have to provide two documents that they were here prior to Jan. 1 of this year. Five months in this country, according to the Senate, signifies deep roots.

The documents those with deep roots would have to provide may include business or employer records; bank records; labor union or day-laborer center records; remittance records or a sworn affidavit from a nonrelative. If they have been working under the table, they would be subject to paying back taxes.

Therefore, it would behoove someone who has been working under the table here for five years to claim they came here Dec. 30. After all, our experience with the 1986 amnesty proves that these types of documents are easily forged. And, based on history, the IRS would gladly accept them.

The documents are so easily forged, in fact, in order to qualify for amnesty under the 1986 law, a New York taxi driver named Ramzi Yousef submitted forged documents to "prove" he had been an agricultural worker. He received amnesty and then used his American passport to travel to and from Afghanistan for terrorist training and to help plan the first World Trade Center attack, which killed six Americans and wounded hundreds more.

In short, the current Senate bill is nothing more than a very liberal amnesty wrapped in smoke and mirrors. While we succeeded last week in stopping bad legislation from moving forward, we must remain vigilant. Americans deserve real immigration reform this time around, not another amnesty that doesn't solve the problem but, in fact, exacerbates it.