Immigration blues

The hypocrisy that has long characterized America’s relationship with illegal immigrants from Latin America is as apparent as always in the several so-called “immigration reform” measures now being considered in Congress.

Despite knowing that immigrants come here for work, our representatives have proposed measures that do nothing to decrease the availability of jobs or make it harder for employers to hire illegals. Instead they go after the immigrants themselves as well as anybody who helps them.

A draconian bill passed by the House would add hundreds of miles of fencing to the border, at huge costs, despite evidence that such barriers are more effective at keeping illegals in this country once they’ve arrived than keeping them out. It would also turn being here illegally and providing humanitarian aid to illegals into felony crimes. A similar bill by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist would place an only slightly less onerous emphasis on fence-building and criminal sanctions.

The best of a bad lot is the bill written by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It, too, would increase fencing and boost border surveillance, but it also contains a provision allowing the 12 million people already here illegally a way to “earn” permanent residency. And it would establish a guest worker program providing legal status to 1.5 million of those illegal workers already here. A separate provision would cover 400,000 non-farm workers.

The bills come at a time when polls show that most Americans favor allowing illegals with jobs to become legal residents. They understand that these excellent workers are a vital part of American life and society.

Yes, we need to exercise greater control over our borders. But the best way to do that is to make it harder for employers to hire workers who lack documentation. Fake ID cards are too easy to make, and employers are too willing to accept them. Until this situation is changed, poor people from Mexico and points south will continue to risk their lives in search of greater opportunity. All the fences in the world won’t stop them.