- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

Senate Republicans warned yesterday that the immigration bill approved by the Senate last month won’t stop companies from hiring illegal aliens — the very magnet that has drawn some 12 million illegals to the United States.

“Less than one hour of floor time was devoted to this subject during the debates on the Senate floor,” said Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who called a subcommittee hearing on the topic yesterday. “Now, this concerns me because not only do I see work-site enforcement as the critical means, or linchpin, really, of successful immigration reform, but also because the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has told me that several provisions in the Senate bill would make the system unworkable.”

They say the promises included in the current bill aren’t much better than those included in the immigration bill of 1986, which granted amnesty to 3 million illegals and paved the way for 12 million new ones to come here.

“The American people are now once again being asked to accept the same bargain today, and the cornerstone of this deal is a new electronic employment-verification system,” Mr. Cornyn said. “Unfortunately, the Senate has conducted virtually no open debate on this subject.”

Yesterday’s hearing was the first of its kind, and government officials acknowledged the general inability of the federal government to prevent the hiring of illegal aliens.

They blamed the plethora of documents illegals can use to prove their eligibility for employment and the burgeoning market for counterfeit documents. Also, they said, the growing problem of identity theft has further stymied their efforts.

The Senate bill grants amnesty to illegals for all forms of document fraud and identity theft and also grants blanket amnesty to all employers who have hired — even knowingly — illegals in the past.

Federal officials also blamed the war against terrorism for drawing attention away from immigration. But all that’s changed now, they promised.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement “is reinvigorating our work-site enforcement efforts,” said Julie L. Myers, assistant secretary of ICE. “We are seeking to change the culture of illegal employment across the country by pursuing the most egregious employers engaged in the employment of illegal workers and educating the private sector to institute best hiring practices.”

Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, said there was little hope for improvement with current proposals.

“I am concerned that the worker verification title passed in the current Senate immigration bill only takes us halfway there, and will not eliminate the activity that currently allows millions of illegal immigrants to steal Social Security numbers and obtain work fraudulently,” he said. “It’s important not only to stop illegal immigration, but to stop identity theft; there must be safeguards to ensure that someone is actually who he claims to be.”

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