Thursday, September 14, 2006

Between now and Nov. 7, this page will be highlighting the national security consequences of electing Democratic majorities in Congress. In this editorial, we focus on illegal immigration.

While the Senate Republicans are divided on immigration, that is not the case in the House: Republicans overwhelmingly favor an enforcement/national security-first approach, and House Democrats, whose leadership on immigration matters includes Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California (who would become Speaker of the House next year if Democrats gain a majority) and Rep. John Conyers of Michigan (who is in line to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee) are strong advocates of expanding rights for illegal aliens.

If it had not been for the fact that House Republicans, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, stood firm, Senate Democrats would have succeeded in blocking passage last year of the Real ID Act. That legislation placed particular emphasis on ensuring the integrity of state-issued drivers licenses to prevent a repeat of the September 11 terrorist attacks, in which illegals used fraudulently obtained licenses to board airplanes. The measure also included provisions requiring that a drivers license expire when an aliens’s visa expires and tightening an asylum system that had been abused by terrorists in the past. In a Feb. 9, 2005, speech, Mr. Conyers likened the law to an effort to expel Jews from the South during the Civil War.

On Dec. 16, the House of Representatives, led by Mr. Sensenbrenner, passed immigration-reform legislation (H.R. 4437) which included provisions requiring employers to verify workers’ legal status using electronic means; requiring the federal government to take custody of illegals detained by local authorities and ending the policy of “catch and release”; and barring grants to federal, state or local government agencies which enact or maintain a sanctuary policy. Unlike the Senate immigration bill passed earlier this year, the House bill contains no amnesty or guest-worker programs. On both the Real ID legislation and H.R. 4437, the overwhelming majority of Republicans supported a tough stance against illegal immigration, while the overwhelming majority of Democrats joined Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Conyers in opposition.

Few politicians can match Mrs. Pelosi’s fervor on behalf of illegals. During an October 2003 visit to Mexico, she denounced federal raids on Wal-Mart stores which employed them as a form of “terror.” The following year, after a new Mobile Patrol Group under the auspices of the Border Patrol arrested 450 illegals in a series of raids in California, Mrs. Pelosi and fellow Democratic members of Congress protested and the patrol group was disbanded.

If the Democrats win the House, Mrs. Pelosi will become one of the most powerful politicians in Washington when it comes to deciding immigration policy. If Nancy Pelosi commands a majority in the House, it would eliminate the one area of the federal government where critics of open-borders policies commanded a majority.

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