- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The premise in “Early primaries could shift focus to immigration” (Politics, Aug. 9) is questionable. Concerns that an early focus on immigration in the presidential primary could detract from the larger issue at hand - the economy - are not warranted.

Immigration enforcement contributes to our economic prosperity. Full enforcement of our immigration laws opens up job opportunities for unemployed American workers. After Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducts work-site enforcement actions, businesses replace illegal workers with those authorized to work in the United States. They often increase wages, too.

For example, when Georgia’s Crider Inc. lost more than 600 illegal workers following an ICE work-site enforcement action, the company increased wages by $1 an hour and attracted legal workers. There are stories like this all over the United States: Enforce immigration laws, and unemployed Americans will be back on the payroll and earning a living for themselves and their families.

Unfortunately, President Obama has all but abandoned work-site enforcement efforts. Over the past two years, work-site enforcement efforts fell 70 percent. Under the Obama administration, there have been fewer arrests of illegal workers, fewer criminal arrests, fewer indictments and fewer convictions.

With continued high unemployment and underemployment, jobs are scarce and families are worried. We should do all we can to put Americans back to work. That includes the full enforcement of our immigration laws.

We also could open up millions of jobs by requiring all U.S. employers to use E-Verify. This program quickly identifies people working illegally in the United States and protects jobs for citizens by checking the Social Security numbers of new hires.

Republicans should continue to embrace immigration enforcement as part of our overall economic agenda - because the president has failed to do so.

REP. LAMAR SMITH

Texas Republican

Chairman, House Judiciary Committee

Washington

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