Rep. Tom Tancredo yesterday introduced a bill to try to solve illegal immigration by denying illegal aliens jobs while creating a new guest-worker program to let employers fill those jobs with legal temporary workers.
But before the guest-worker provisions would kick in, the Colorado Republican’s bill requires that the government meet a series of benchmarks for enforcing immigration laws, including requiring that the United States reduce the backlog of those ordered deported who still are at large in the country.
It also would authorize the military to help police the U.S. border and would change citizenship law so that children born to people here illegally or on temporary visas would not automatically become U.S. citizens.
His jobs program would consolidate all existing temporary workers such as technology, agriculture or nursing workers, into one broad category, and participants would be eligible to be in the United States for 365 days out of every two years.
Mr. Tancredo’s bill joins a series of other guest-worker proposals such as those sponsored by Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, or the bill due today from Sens. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, and Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican.
But Mr. Tancredo said his is the only bill that does not offer an amnesty by letting those who are here illegally remain temporarily or permanently. He said he does not have much hope of his bill’s being enacted, but wanted to show a comprehensive plan could be put together that does not include amnesty.
“We must put these things into the debate. I want them out there,” he said. “I want them to be part of the discussions as we proceed.”
The bill includes tough sanctions on employers, and Mr. Tancredo said that move is the way to handle the 10 million or more illegal aliens in the United States.
“Without jobs and without social service benefits and without the ability to send your kids off to school, if you do all these things, pretty soon it’s just not worth it and it becomes difficult to be here and you return home,” Mr. Tancredo said.
Mr. Tancredo has been visiting states that traditionally hold early primaries or caucuses during the parties’ presidential nominee selection process to try to stir up interest in the immigration issue. He has promised to run for president if no one else offers an immigration solution he can endorse.
He also has become a frequent figure on talk radio, and yesterday he found himself defending comments he made Friday on WFLA-AM in Orlando, Fla., that the U.S. should consider bombing the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia in retaliation if terrorists ever attacked U.S. cities with nuclear weapons.
Mr. Tancredo, responding to a question from the host about how the U.S. should respond, said: “Well, what if you said something like — if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites?”
Asked whether he meant Mecca, Mr. Tancredo said, “Yeah,” though he later said he was “just throwing out some ideas.”
Yesterday, Mr. Tancredo did not back away from his comments.
“Tough things are said, and we should not shy away from saying things that need to be said,” he said.