- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2006

A new study of six countries shows they treat illegal aliens more harshly than the United States, and suggests that the nations with the most success in controlling illegal immigration also have the strictest enforcement.

The study by the Law Library of Congress, requested by House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., looked at Mexico, Brazil, Switzerland, Japan, Egypt and Sweden.

“Japan and Switzerland are effective in enforcing immigration laws because illegal immigration is viewed as harmful,” Edith Palmer, senior foreign-law specialist, wrote in the report, which looks at the penalties in place in each country for illegal presence, human trafficking, fraud and employers’ use of illegal-alien workers.

Mr. Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Republican, was the author of the House immigration-enforcement bill that passed in December with solid bipartisan support. It calls for 698 miles of new fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and requiring employers to verify that their employers are legally allowed to work.

“This study refutes the canard promoted by the illegal-immigrant lobby here that the House-passed legislation’s efforts to prevent illegal immigration and control the border cannot work,” Mr. Sensenbrenner said.

“The House’s effort to stiffen penalties against employers hiring illegal workers can help shut off the job magnet that lures millions of immigrants to enter the U.S. illegally,” he said.

Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at the New York University School of Law, said the report doesn’t actually support those conclusions.

“He’s trying to find any study that may vaguely support the argument that enforcement alone pays dividends. The problem with these studies is all of them don’t seem to make that point,” Mr. Chishti said.

He said the countries most similar to the United States in the report — Brazil and Egypt, both of which are big and share a long land border with less-developed nations — have the least effective enforcement.

He also said the example of Japan, where the illegal population fell by about 25 percent between 1993 and 2000, when Japan was suffering an economic downturn, shows the economy may matter more than law enforcement.

The Senate, with President Bush’s backing, is moving toward a broader bill that would legalize many illegal aliens rather than require them to go home, and create a new foreign-worker program.

“Immigration reform needs to be comprehensive because all elements of this problem must be addressed together, or none of them will be solved at all,” Mr. Bush said on Thursday.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said Republicans are trying to play both sides of the enforcement issue, with Mr. Sensenbrenner praising it even as the Republican National Committee is running advertisements blaming Democrats for voting to maintain the felony penalty in the House bill.

“If President Bush is as serious about comprehensive immigration reform as he says, he needs to rein in his party and ensure that a bipartisan compromise doesn’t get hijacked by the radical right,” Mr. Reid said.



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