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EDITORIAL: Foreign aid?

- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

The $787 billion stimulus bill is about as long as the Manhattan phone book and as full of surprises. We just found another doozy.

Democratic leaders slipped in a provision eliminating a law requiring that workers on federal contracts prove they are citizens or legal residents of the United States. The eliminated provision includes a program called "E-verify" that allows employers to quickly access federal databases to check the legal status of workers - all but avoiding the risk that forged documents will fool an innocent employer into hiring an illegal.

So some 300,000 construction jobs will likely go to illegal aliens, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. The center's estimate is based on the 2 million construction jobs that the stimulus package is expected to generate and on U.S. Census Bureau data showing 15 percent of U.S. construction workers are illegal immigrants. Since many of the projects are in states with high illegal alien populations, the actual number may be higher.

There are two theories as to why Democratic leaders stripped the web-based E-Verify system that is a joint project of the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Theory One is that Democrats wanted to placate activists who may not get quick action on outright amnesty. Theory Two is that Democrats catered to pro-business interests such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which sued to prevent E-Verify from becoming mandatory) who want a vast pool of reasonably priced labor.

Or perhaps the pols simply think illegal aliens are easier to unionize than natives.

Whatever the motivation, increasing the rewards of illegal entry cannot be in the long-term best interest of the country.