Friday, January 27, 2006
As Congress heads back to work, here are some words from Congressman Tom Tancredo, who heads the House Immigration Reform Caucus (90+ members), in response to a Wall Street Journal editorial criticizing the Sensenbrenner bill:
In November, the House passed the most important immigration reform bill in a decade, which, among other things, calls for the construction of a security fence along our southern border, requires federal and local law enforcement to cooperate on immigration matters, and mandates that employers use an instant check system to verify their employees' legal status. Your Dec. 29 editorial "Tom Tancredo's Wall1" shows an utter disregard for what the bill would do and the threat current immigration anarchy poses to our national and economic security.
First, to "the wall." While I am honored that you call it mine, because I serve in the lower chamber I cannot partake in the recent trend of putting my name on a public structure. In fact, the security fence is anything but my own -- 60% of Americans support a fence, and 49 Democrats voted for it, making the fence one of the most popular provisions in the reform bill. The fence is popular because it is effective. Where the fence is constructed near San Diego, there is virtually no illegal migration or cross-border gang activity.
You may dislike the bill's mandatory employer verification, but reducing the jobs magnet that drives mass illegal entry is an effective and fair way to fix the system. Practically, the U.S. does not penalize employers who hire illegals. Last year, nationwide, the federal government sent only three notices to businesses that it intended to fine for illegal employees. DHS's online instant check system -- which has been up and running for seven years -- provides an inexpensive way for businesses to avoid fines in the first place.
In the long run, America's economy has much more to fear from waves of illegal immigration than it does from fixing the system. Leading economists such as Harvard's George Borjas have shown that low-skilled American workers have seen their wages stagnate in the past decade. This may be the first time in our nation's history that the economy's rising tide has failed to lift all boats. It's not popular to say in Manhattan's corporate board rooms, but heartland Americans know that such a labor situation is not economically sustainable.
Illegal immigration does, however, pose one threat with which Wall Street is tragically familiar. Three of the 9/11 hijackers were in this country illegally, and it doesn't take a terrorist mastermind like Osama bin Laden to recognize and exploit our porous borders. 9/11 shook our economy; industries such as air travel are still recovering four years later. Another terrorist attack -- even if it were not as deadly as 9/11 -- could permanently damage our economy as investors wonder whether we can ever be safe from such violence. In the cold, reasoned view of any economist, that's not a risk we can afford to take.
source: Wall Street Journal, Jan. 10, 2006