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SMITH: Obama’s Christmas list rewards illegals

President’s policies favor border-jumpers over unemployed Americans

- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 1, 2011

This holiday season, it seems President Obama is making a list and checking twice to find out who's been naughty and nice. But unlike Santa's list, Mr. Obama's list is not based on merit. The president and administration officials are determined to make their own list that rewards lawbreakers and penalizes American workers.

There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States and about 7 million of them work here illegally. At the same time, 23 million Americans are unemployed or cannot find full-time work. Jobs should be protected for legal workers.But the Obama administration places illegal immigrants ahead of the interests of American workers.

For example, last Christmas the Obama administration and then-Democrat-controlled Congress pushed for the enactment of the Dream Act. This bill is essentially a gift-wrapped jobs package for illegal immigrants. The Dream Act would prevent Americans from getting jobs since millions of illegal immigrants would have become eligible to work legally in the United States.

Under some Dream Act proposals, amnesty would be given to individuals under the age of 30 who supposedly were brought to the United States as children, though the government does not have the resources to check. This means an estimated 2 million illegal immigrants would be eligible for amnesty, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

The Dream Act penalizes American workers and forces them to compete with illegal immigrants for scarce jobs. It also encourages more illegal immigration and is a magnet for fraud. Fortunately, the Dream Act faced bipartisan opposition and was defeated. But this has not stopped the Obama administration from giving amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Recently, political appointees at the Department of Homeland Security issued new deportation guidelines that amount to backdoor amnesty and strike another blow at the 14 million unemployed U.S. workers.

This stocking stuffer could allow illegal immigrants to receive work authorization and could put even more U.S. citizens on the unemployment rolls. In fact, when illegal immigrants are allowed to stay in the United States and apply for work authorization, the Obama administration grants it 90 percent of the time.

Christmas has also come early for illegal immigrants through the Obama administration's inaction. Under this administration, work site enforcement has plummeted 70 percent. This means there have been fewer arrests of illegal workers, fewer criminal arrests, fewer indictments and fewer convictions.

Without work site enforcement, we can't stop employers from hiring illegal workers. If we don't stop employers from hiring illegal immigrants, we can't put a stop to the jobs magnet. And as long as the jobs magnet exists, millions of illegal immigrants will come to the U.S. and take jobs from lawful workers.

The Obama administration also hurts American workers by suing states that seek to enforce immigration laws instead of focusing on their duty to carry out all of our laws. In fact, the administration has sued Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah for their laws designed to reduce illegal immigration and protect American workers.

But at the same time, the Obama administration looks the other way when states and localities undermine federal immigration laws. The administration has ignored efforts by Illinois, Massachusetts and New York to stop participating in Secure Communities. This common-sense program keeps our neighborhoods safe by identifying illegal and criminal immigrants in police custody who have been arrested and fingerprinted. The administration also has refused to penalize sanctuary cities that blatantly defy federal immigration laws.

Mr. Obama and his administration are on the wrong side of the American people. According to a recent poll, two-thirds of the American people want to see immigration laws enforced.

This holiday season, Mr. Obama should give American workers the gift they want. He could give unemployed American workers an opportunity to go back to work if he simply enforced all immigration laws. But it seems he is determined to reward illegal immigrants instead.

Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

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