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4917Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

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  • Ed Nelson
    Jun 28, 2011
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      In our May 26th blog, Border Control celebrated the Supreme Court victory that allowed states like Arizona to pressure businesses into adopting E-Verify or lose their business license.

      It was a long battle that was fought up through the court system.  It was an expensive battle for the citizens of Arizona.  And it was a difficult battle when you consider that Arizona was taking on the power, influence and money of all those business interest and political organizations who support open borders, mass illegal migration and the hiring of illegal aliens over American workers.

      They faced the combined strength of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a host of leftist and pro-immigration organizations and individualswho champion all things hateful and destructive to our country.

      The victory was not won on the merits of the case, i.e., E-Verify can help businesses ensure that they are not hiring illegal aliens.  It won because the case brought against Arizona by the plaintiffs argued that there was a federal law that preempted the Arizona law.  But the Supreme Court disagreed.

      As a result of this decision, every state in the nation can now enact identical legislation that will force criminal employers to use E-Verify or lose their business licenses.  Yes, I said criminal employers because honest employers are already using the voluntary E-Verify system.

      Of great significance in the decision was that cooperative immigration enforcement, with the states and the federal government working together to restore the rule of law in the workplace, was permissible under current federal law.

      It was all starting to look good! All the criminal employers were going to have to get rid of their illegal alien employees and start competing head to head with their honest competitors who employ American workers.

      The Supreme Court decision gave a green light to the rest of the states, allowing them, too, to revoke the business licenses of employers who hire unauthorized aliens.  Alabama enacted a law taking Arizona's approach on June 9,  just two weeks after the Supreme Court decision.  Other states, like Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia and Oklahoma, had already done so.  More would be following in 2012.

      Adding frosting to the cake, the decision was a significant defeat for the Obama administration, which argued against the Arizona law in the high court, and for the Chamber of Commerce, which also opposed Arizona and has resisted immigration enforcement in the workplace.

      But then something strange happened.  Republican House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith introduced legislation  (HR 2164) to require nationwide use of the E-Verify program.  What's wrong with that?  Won't such a law ensure that all states comply with E-Verify?  Not necessarily.   While the Smith bill sounds good, in fact, it cripples immigration enforcement.

      Having been in this business for thirty years, something smells rotten to me.  Look at the coincidence of having a bill ready to go days after years of watching the states struggle with this issue.

      Why didn't Smith introduce this bill last year or even a few weeks before the Supreme Court decided for the American people and against Big Criminal Business?  And how did they manage to get a companion bill drafted in the U.S. Senate on such short notice?

      Could it have anything to do with the fact that the Chamber of Commerce helped Rep. Smith draft the bill. And isn't the Chamber of Commerce the same group that has, forever, been working shoulder to shoulder with the open borders/amnesty crowd?  And wasn't it the Chamber that brought suite against Arizona.

      What's in the bill?  Nothing very good.  The bill would establish a very weak E-Verify requirement while virtually eliminating a state's power to enforce  immigration law by giving the federal government preemption of the states.  Smith's bill would change federal law so that the states can no longer take any actions against employers who knowingly hire unauthorized aliens, but leaves them with the huge financial burden of illegal immigration.

      The federal government has been unwilling to enforce immigration laws in the workplace, and this bill would be no exception.  There is zero likelihood that the Obama administration will go after employers who fail to use E-Verify or who knowingly help their employees circumvent the system.

      In contrast, states like Arizona have been effective in enforcing their illegal-immigration laws. In Arizona, dozens of work-site raids and investigations have occurred. That's why the number of illegal aliens in Arizona dropped 16 percent from 2008 to 2010 -- more than double the national 7 percent drop.

      There are other problems with Smith's bill, showing why the chamber was so willing to strike this deal.  Notably, it grandfathers in almost all illegal aliens who are already employed here and stay in the same job.  They won't be checked through E-Verify.  Thus, the bill will help keep the current population of illegal aliens working, so that they are still here if a future amnesty (which the chamber supports) occurs.

      Even worse, the bill would effectively allow agricultural workers to skip E-Verify. All an employer has to do is assert that the alien worked for him at some point in the past. This loophole alone would likely allow millions of illegal aliens to continue working here.

      In sum, the bill isn't even a compromise -- it's a total sellout.   Frankly, I am surprised and disappointed that Rep. Smith would be party to such a bill, let alone put his name on it.

      I even note with sadness that some prominent immigration groups have endorsed it.  What could they be thinking?   We already won this battle.  This bill does little more than take away our victory and hand it over to the enemy.

      Edward I. Nelson
      Chairman

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