Instead, they have decided to hold public hearings throughout the summer in an attempt to gauge the public's opinion before drafting an immigration bill.
You know, the people who benefit from illegal immigration and cheap labor guest worker programs.
House Republicans are focusing on everyday people in the states most affected by illegal immigration.
You know, the people footing the bill.
Meanwhile – particularly in the wake of Chris Cannon's pyrrhic but propaganda-providing primary victory in Utah - the Pence Ploy is still being sold as a "compromise" bill.
It's even gained support from a few high-profile conservatives. In his recent column, Immigration Impasse: Unlikely Legislation in this Congress [June 20, 2006] Paul Weyrich says 'the Pence bill deserves serious consideration' and 'it is one great start to try to find a solution to the immigration mess even if it has to await consideration until the next Congress.'
Yeah…and we only covered the behemoth guest worker program Pence wants to create.
There is much, much more wrong with it.
1. The border security portion focuses on reports and surveys instead of well, securing the border.
2. Pence would scapegoat the smugglers—the penalty for smuggling goes way up but the penalty for illegal immigrants stays the same: nothing.
3. Lame employer penalties
4. Useless voluntary departure programs
Title I of the Pence Plan is called Securing U.S. Borders.
It sounds like a good first step but it consists almost entirely of reports, studies, data collection, reviews, recommendations, consultations and tracking.
There did not appear to be a lot of action if you know what I mean:
(That last one is again, just a report. The information gathered is very valuable but only if somebody does something to fix the problem.)
Title II of the Pence Plan is called: Combating Alien Smuggling And Illegal Entry And Presence
This section does establish criminal penalties for persons who aid illegal immigration. But it only addresses the smugglers. The penalty for alien smuggling would increase to a range of 3 to 20 years in prison and of course, fines.
Ok, what about the other people and/or agencies who aid and abet illegal immigration?
'short-term, in-kind, non-cash emergency humanitarian assistance, including medical care, housing, counseling, victim services, and food, or to transport the alien to a location where such assistance can be rendered.' [Title II Sec. 274 (3) (B)]
Why are illegal immigrants not subjected to the same punishment as those they hire to help carry out the crime?
As I described in my last column, the Pence Plan claims to deter illegal immigration primarily by punishing those who hire them.
These are Pence's employer restrictions:
'Any person who, during any 12-month period, knowingly hires for employment at least 10 individuals with actual knowledge that the individuals are aliens shall be fined under title 18, United 21 States Code, imprisoned for not more than 5 years or both.' [Sec. 274 (b) (1)]
In other words, this means an employer can hire nine illegal immigrants per year without consequence.
I'm going to guess that's a good share of illegal alien employment.
Not that it matters!
Labor contractors (usually illegal aliens themselves) have an arrangement with the employer to provide X number of workers for what is more or less a finder's fee.
This is a binding contract in which the contractor agrees to provide the employer with legal workers only—not illegal immigrants.
The guilty party has always been the contractor, not the farmer or the construction company. You've heard of laundering money. The contractors are laundering labor.
The Pence Plan does not address this loophole.
Once again, it sounds good but in truth accomplishes nothing.
Now onto one of my favorite parts: Voluntary Departure
it's HUGE and hugely flawed.
Wait a minute, no they don't.
'An immigration judge may waive posting of a voluntary departure bond in individual cases upon a finding that the alien has presented compelling evidence that the posting of a bond will be a serious financial hardship and the alien has presented credible evidence that such a bond is unnecessary to guarantee timely departure.'
Presumably Congressman Pence wanted to provide an incentive for illegal aliens to leave of their own accord in lieu of a costly court proceeding.
But when will he (and the rest of his colleagues) learn that the coax and coddle approach does not work?
Illegal immigrants should not receive incentives to follow our laws—they should simply fear the consequences when they do not.
But the Pence language goes on to say:
'However, if an alien agrees to voluntary departure but later files a timely appeal of the immigration judge's decision granting voluntary departure, the alien may pursue the appeal instead of the voluntary departure agreement.'
So they can appeal?
Now it's time to ask the question I always ask…what happens if they do not honor the agreement and leave the country?
So to summarize the Pence Ploy:
There is not a reform bill.
In fact, it will only make matters worse by increasing the number of unskilled immigrants in America.
This bill does not punish illegal immigrants at all.
Within the American justice system, an adequate punishment has been determined to include elements of both consequence and deterrence.
Effective law enforcement cannot be achieved without it.
The most effective way to accomplish this is to not allow criminals to benefit from their crime.
Bryanna's bottom line: Fines, penalties, maybe a few days in county jail or a week-long trip back to Mexico to get a guaranteed visa will not work—ever.
It's like…oh, you get the point!
We will never stop illegal immigration until we start denying these people that which they broke the law to obtain:
Residency in the United States.
Bryanna Bevens [email her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff for a member of the California State Assembly.