- The Washington Times - Monday, April 10, 2006

In the aftermath of last week’s Senate meltdown over immigration legislation and ongoing mass demonstrations meant to compel more sympathetic treatment for illegal aliens, official Washington seems poised once again to give short shrift to contrary sentiments of millions of American citizens.

All other things being equal, their views will be trumped by the folks who have dominated our dysfunctional border security and workplace policies for years: the vocal, highly disciplined and well-financed special interest comprised of immigration lawyers, Latino activist organizations and businesses that have long prospered by exploiting illegal aliens.

Despite the political pressure to grant a far-reaching amnesty to immense numbers of illegal aliens (perhaps as many as 20 million according to a recent Bear Sterns study) being exercised by those taking to the streets, the American people have an opportunity over the next two weeks to reverse this dynamic that entails real national security, as well as socioeconomic, risks. One way would be by challenging elected officials (and wannabes) to endorse the “Secure America” pledge.

This pledge has been endorsed by more than 30 organizations active in the public policy debate about immigration matters (http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/Secure-America.pdf). It offers 10 commonsense principles that should govern our policies in these areas. Politicians who want our votes should be asked to confirm that they support the following principles:

(1) The purpose of U.S. immigration policy is to benefit the citizens of the United States.

(2) Since immigration policy can profoundly shape a country, it should be set by deliberate actions, not by accident or acquiescence, with careful consideration to ensure it does not adversely affect the quality of life of American citizens and their communities.

(3) Immigration policy should be based on and adhere to the rule of law. Immigration laws must be enforced consistently and uniformly throughout the United States.

(4) Noncitizens enter the United States as guests and must obey the rules governing their entry. The U.S. government must track the entry, stay and departure of all visa-holders to ensure they comply fully with the terms of their visas, or to remove them if they fail to comply.

(5) The borders of the U.S. must be physically secured at the earliest possible time. An effective barrier to illegal entry of both aliens and contraband is vital to U.S. security.

(6) Those responsible for facilitating illegal immigration shall be sought, arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law and shall forfeit any profits from such activity. This applies to smugglers and traffickers of people, as well as to those involved in the production, procurement, distribution or use of fraudulent or counterfeit documents.

(7) U.S. employers shall be given a simple and streamlined process to determine whether employees are legally eligible to work. Employers who obey the law shall be protected both from liability and from unfair competition by those who violate immigration law. The violators shall be subject to fines and taxes in excess of what they would have paid to employ U.S. citizens and legal residents for the same work.

(8) Those who enter or remain in the United States in violation of the law shall be detained and removed expeditiously. Illegal aliens shall not accrue any benefit, including U.S. citizenship, as a result of their illegal entry or presence in the United States.

(9) No federal, state or local entity shall reward individuals for violating immigration laws by granting public benefits or services, or by issuing or accepting any form of identification, or by providing any other assistance that facilitates unlawful presence or employment in this country. All federal and law enforcement agencies shall cooperate fully with federal immigration authorities, and shall report to such authorities any information they receive indicating an individual may have violated immigration laws.

(10) Illegal aliens currently in the United States may be afforded a one-time opportunity to leave the United States without penalty and seek permission to re-enter legally if they qualify under existing law. Those who do not take advantage of this opportunity will be removed and permanently barred from returning.

The need for such commitments is all the greater in light of worrying prospect: the sorts of illegal immigration-related problems evident today may pale by comparison with those that might arise should Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador succeed Vincente Fox this summer as president of Mexico. AMLO (as he is known in Mexico) as mayor of Mexico City made no secret of either his radical leftist political proclivities or his affinity for the virulent anti-Americanism of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

Such a Mexican leader can be counted upon to maintain his country’s own draconian treatment of illegal aliens; for example, as the Center for Security Policy’s J. Michael Waller has noted, it is a felony — yes, a felony — to be an illegal alien in Mexico (http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/Mexicos_Immigration_Law.pdf).

AMLO will also surely be tempted to use the rising assertiveness of his countrymen illegally in the United States not only to block legislation that would restore the rule of (immigration) law here. He may also encourage them to advance the extreme Mexican nationalists’ agenda of “reconquista” or “taking back” America.

There is no time to lose in securing America. Make sure over the next two weeks that your representative — or those who wish to represent you — pledge to do so.

Frank J. Gaffney is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times. He blogs at www.WarFooting.com.

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