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Republicans Again Criticize Democrats’ Failure to Take Up Meaningful Immigration Reform
While Refusing to Allow a Vote on Bipartisan Immigration Reforms, Democrats Convene Hearing to Advocate Special Protections for those in the U.S. Illegally
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican leaders of the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor today repeated their criticism of efforts by congressional Democrats to divert attention from the need for comprehensive immigration reform. While legislation to secure the borders and strengthen employer verification systems continues to languish, Democrats today convened a hearing that purported to examine workplace violations but ignored key issues like identity theft and drug trafficking.
“An unfortunate byproduct of the failure to overhaul the immigration system has been a large number of non-work eligible individuals working in the United States, establishing families, and putting roots down in our communities only to have their lives upended when it is discovered that they are here illegally,” said Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), the Workforce Protections Subcommittee’s senior Republican. “This is damaging to everyone involved, from the workers and their families to the employers who, in many cases, are unknowingly employing ineligible workers. However, unlike many problems facing our nation, this is one to which there is an obvious – albeit incomplete – solution: a sound employee verification system.”
To date, 188 Members of Congress have signed a discharge petition to force the Democratic majority to allow an up-or-down vote on the Secure America Through Verification and Enforcement Act (H.R. 4088), Democrat-authored legislation to expand use of employer verification to ensure employers are hiring individuals eligible to be employed in the U.S. That bill, along with legislation authored by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) – the New Employee Verification Act (H.R. 5515) – would help ensure a legal workforce and protect against the humanitarian concerns that result from illegal immigration. Democratic leaders have thus far refused to allow consideration of either measure.
Democrats focused much of their questioning during today’s hearing on their criticisms of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for its efforts to enforce existing immigration laws, alleging that enforcement actions have failed to target employers. However, according to ICE’s own annual report, “ICE’s more aggressive worksite enforcement strategy targeted the ‘jobs magnet’ that attracts illegal aliens seeking employment in the U.S. In FY07, ICE dramatically increased penalties against employers whose hiring processes violate the law, securing fines and judgments of more than $30 million while making 863 criminal arrests and 4,077 administrative arrests.”
Instead of stonewalling on comprehensive immigration reform and advocating new special protections for those in this country illegally, Republicans argued, Democrats in Congress should finally take action on legislation that will ensure secure borders, effective enforcement, and a robust, legal workforce in order to avoid the harmful consequences of our broken borders.
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