But now the concerns are mounting that the legislation is fatally flawed and will do more harm than good. It should be an immediate red flag that the evil Chamber of Commerce supports HR2164 as do the National Association of Home Builders and the National Restaurant Association. These groups have been vicious and entrenched enemies of workplace enforcement, so one has to wonder whether the change of heart is sincere.
The 1986 amnesty was supposed to trade forgiveness toward millions of lawbreakers for border and workplace enforcement. Somehow Washington forgot to do the enforcement part, and the Reagan Amnesty ended up being all carrot and no stick. We donâ€™t want a replay of that stab in the back. In fact, we citizens are still owed enforcement from the 1986 deal, which contained no statute of limitations.
A big problem is how the Smith bill (aka the Legal Workforce Act) undercuts statesâ€™ ability to enforce immigration laws, as was recently affirmed by the Supreme Court. By contrast, Senator Grassleyâ€™s E-verify bill allows the immigration laws of states and localities to remain in force. The states, particularly Arizona, have led the way, showing hidebound Washington what can be done by aroused citizens and a responsible legislature.
The feds have been negligent for decades in enforcing borders and immigration laws. The recent decree that deportations will be scaled back indicates that public safety will be sacrificed by Washington to pursue elitesâ€™ cheap-labor open-borders agenda.
Kris Kobach has written persuasively on the legislation, e.g. Throwing the States off the Field, making the point that â€?The states are actually enforcing these laws, in sharp contrast to the federal governmentâ€™s lax enforcement approach under President Obama.â€?
Rep. Lou Barletta was interviewed on the Steve Gill radio show June 17 where he discussed the Smith legislation, which he called â€?a good bill gone bad.â€?
Rep. Barletta also issued a press release June 15, E-Verify bill will make illegal immigration problem worse.
It included a focused list of whatâ€™s wrong with the Smith legislation as it stands:
SIX FLAWS IN H.R. 2164, THE LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT
1. It stabs Arizona in the back immediately after Arizona won its victory in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The law that Arizona passed in 2007 (which suspends business licenses of employers who knowingly hire unauthorized aliens and, which has been enforced vigorously), would be preempted under the Legal Workforce Act (sec. (6), p. 50).
2. It is an affront to statesâ€™ rights.
The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of cooperative enforcement, with the states and the federal government working together to restore the rule of law in immigration. Yet this bill snatches defeat from the jaws of victory and tells the states that they can no longer take meaningful actions to go after employers who knowingly hire unauthorized aliens. Alabama adopted Arizonaâ€™s approach just two weeks after the Supreme Court victory. Dozens of other states are likely to follow in 2012 when the state legislatures go back into session. If the Legal Workforce Act passes, Congress will tie the statesâ€™ hands, forcing them to continue paying about $80 billion a year in fiscal costs caused by illegal immigration.
3. The Legal Workforce Act will be another federal law that goes unenforced.
The federal government has been unwilling to aggressively enforce immigration laws in the workplace, and this law will be no exception. There is zero likelihood that the current administration will go after employers who fail to use E-Verify or who knowingly help their employees circumvent the system (which is very easy to do by using a U.S. citizenâ€™s stolen name and Social Security number). In contrast, states like Arizona have been very effective in enforcing their own laws. In Arizona, dozens of worksite raids have occurred. That is why the number of illegal aliens in Arizona dropped 16 percent between 2008 and 2010 â€” more than double the national average (of 7 percent).
4. The Legal Workforce Act gives a â€?workplace amnestyâ€? to virtually all of the illegal aliens who are already employed in the United States.
Illegal aliens already working in the United States cannot be subjected to E-Verify unless they work for state or local governments (sec. (b)(3)(A), p. 26). The Legal Workforce Act is clearly designed to keep the current population of illegal aliens employed and working in the United States in the country, so they would still be here if amnesty is granted in the future.
5. The Legal Workforce Act allows agricultural workers to skip E-Verify entirely.
All an employer has to do is assert that the alien worked for him at some point in the past (sec. (b)(1)(D), p. 18).
6. Special Interest Groups want to take the immigration issue off the table in the 2012 elections.
Knowing the huge popular support for these state laws, Special Interest Groups want to eliminate them, and at the same time (falsely) claim that the issue of illegal immigration in the workplace is now resolved. Illegal immigration is an issue that voters consistently rank in their Top 5 issues of importance, and it needs to be used, not buried, in the 2012 elections.