Wednesday, November 18, 2009

If we were to listen to the complaints about the Obama administration by advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants, you might think our nation’s immigration laws were actually being enforced. To the contrary, the administration has systematically taken steps to weaken enforcement and encourage even more illegal immigration. The amnesty advocates should be happy.

Consider the facts:

This administration rescinded the “no-match” rule that provided simple steps for employers to follow if an employee’s name did not match the Social Security number they provided when hired. These steps made it easy for employers to follow the law and protect themselves from lawsuits. Without this protection, many employers will continue to employ individuals they know are illegal and are taking jobs that should go to citizens and legal residents.

The administration wants to repeal Real ID, which makes it more difficult for illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Instead, the administration supports Pass ID which weakens the Real ID requirement that documents used to obtain a driver’s license must be verified. This makes it easier for illegal immigrants to stay in the country. And it can provide terrorists with a legitimate ID - as we saw with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists, who between them obtained 30 driver’s licenses and ID cards.

In its fiscal 2010 budget proposal, the administration requested no funding for the implementation of a biometric airport exit program. Such a program is necessary to combat illegal immigration, as 40 percent of all 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants in the United States entered the country legally but overstayed their visas. This program will show who did not leave the country when they should have.

The administration restricted the 287(g) program that permits law enforcement officers to assist U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in apprehending illegal immigrants who are stopped for other suspected crimes.

Despite high levels of violence along the Southwest border, the administration requested no funds to build additional border fencing required by Congress in the Secure Fence Act of 2006. Nor did the administration request funds for more detention beds to detain illegal immigrants who are apprehended.

The administration signed into law the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, which provided watered-down citizenship and eligibility documentation requirements. So it is now easier for illegal immigrants to get free health care, giving them another reason to enter illegally.

This administration has cut back on the number of work site enforcement actions, which sends a message to illegal immigrants that they can keep coming to the United States and taking jobs away from citizens and legal immigrants.

In the few work site enforcement actions the administration has carried out, it has refused to arrest the vast majority of illegal workers found at the work site. For example, in just the last few weeks it was reported that 1,200 illegal immigrants were fired after a Department of Homeland Security audit revealed that they were not authorized to work. None of the illegal immigrants were arrested, so they remain in the United State to compete with citizens and legal workers for jobs.

In addition, the administration has failed to sanction states that allow colleges and universities to offer in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants, continues to allow banks to accept Mexican identification cards as valid identification, and allows cities to enact and maintain sanctuary policies.

The open borders crowd really has little to cry about: The obvious outcome of the administration’s policies will be more illegal immigration. But the real result will be higher taxes for government benefits, crowded classrooms, burdened hospital emergency rooms, and fewer jobs for Americans. It is the American people who should weep for the future of our country.

Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas is the ranking Republican on the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee.

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