View From Lodi, CA: In California's 11th Congressional District, A Battle Over SAVE
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The November election in California's Congressional District 11, which includes Lodi, will be a hard-fought contest between incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney and Republican challenger Dean Andal.

In 2006, McNerney unseated Richard Pombo who suffered from allegations of fund raising improprieties, nepotism and the general electoral mood to throw out Republicans.

As voters head for the polls this fall, most are concerned with ending "business as usual" in Washington D.C. With Congressional approval ratings hovering around 20 percent, many representatives are on their way out unless they can convince their constituents that they are serious about reform.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offers a striking example of how she's conducting America's business. Sadly, the term "as usual" applies. Pelosi is working against the people's will on the vital illegal immigration issue.

Last year, North Carolina Democrat Rep. Heath Shuler introduced H. R. 4088, the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement Act.

SAVE, would

  • Provide funding for 8,000 additional border patrol agents and augment the 2006 Secure Fence Act.

  • Check prospective employees immigration status through the E-Verify workplace identification system. That check would also dramatically reduce identity theft incidents.

In all, SAVE would eliminate the job magnet that draws aliens to the U.S. As a result, the numbers of people illegally entering the country would be significantly reduced. Others, already here, may return home when unable to find jobs.

Currently, the SAVE Act has 158 co-sponsors including McNerney.

But Pelosi doesn't like SAVE.

Behind the scenes ("business as usual"), she's blocked a vote on the bill. Instead, Pelosi's is pushing a form of amnesty that would grant legal work permits for millions of employed illegal aliens. Included in Pelosi's scheme are huge increases in H-2B and H-1B visas for all types of foreign workers.

Congress, however, can work around Pelosi by getting a simple majority to sign a "discharge petition" and thereby force a straight up or down floor vote on SAVE.

McNerney is one of the Democratic SAVE co-sponsors who hasn't signed.

I spoke with McNerney's office to find out why he would co-sponsor a bill but not allow a vote on it.

Through his spokesman, McNerney, who recently traveled to Mexico, said that while he favors beefing up the border patrol, he has "concerns" about E-Verify. And McNerney wants the bill debated on the house floor. [McNerney to Lead Delegation Trip to Mexican Border, Lodi News-Sentinel, January 12, 2008]

McNerney's arguments don't impress Capitol Hill immigration experts.

According to a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based NumbersUSA:

"Democrats that complain about the lack of a hearing, however, had no problem pushing their top ten bills to the floor without a hearing at the beginning of this Congressional session. And raising doubts about the E-Verify database also are standard but inaccurate rebuttals. According to DHS, 93 percent of queries are instantly verified. What other government program has an effectiveness rate of over 90 percentage?"

When I spoke to Andal about SAVE, he said:

"At first blush, Jerry McNerney and I agree on H.R. 4088 I support it and he signed up as a co-sponsor. This bill would shore up our overworked border patrol agents who battle narcotic and gun smuggling on a daily basis. It also reflects the average American's concern that we address border security before tackling other, more difficult, illegal immigration issues.

"But in Washington, appearances are deceptive. While Jerry and I both publicly support this important legislation, Pelosi and the liberal Democrat leadership do not. By not signing the discharge petition, McNerney is refusing to back the same bill that he co-sponsored. It is Washington business as usual to abandon American national security and your constituents in favor of dogmatic party loyalty - and hope the people back home won't find out about it."

Pelosi and her like-mined Democrats play a dangerous game in their re-election efforts when they defy the public. Nothing is clearer than the voters disregard for amnesty and more non-immigrant work visas.

In 2007, the Senate tried several times to pass an amnesty bill. Americans rejected each effort.

That should put Congress on alert.

But if Pelosi makes it necessary, the people are ready to reject amnesty one more time.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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