US Legislative Immigration Update September 8, 2009

 Right Side News Reports from the Federation for American Immigration Reform in this September 8, 2009 Legislative Weekly… 

  • REMINDER: FAIR’s Annual Hold Their Feet to the Fire Event – September 15 through 16
  • Media Fails to Focus on How Best to Close Illegal Alien Loophole in House Health Care Bill
  • DHS Allowing Illegal Aliens to Remain in Workforce; DOL Helping Them Improve Working Conditions
  • Special Interests Fail to Block E-Verify Federal Contractor Mandate

 

REMINDER: FAIR’s Annual Hold Their Feet to the Fire Event – September 15 and 16

Just a reminder that FAIR will be holding its annual Hold Their Feet to the Fire event in Washington, D.C. this coming September 15 and 16.   The event will bring true immigration reform activists from across the country together in the nation’s capital along with more than 45 of America’s finest radio talk show hosts to make a push for real reform.  If you want to participate in the event, register today on FAIR’s homepage at http://www.fairus.org./

If you can’t make it to Washington, D.C. to participate in the event, stayed tuned to FAIR’s website for details on how you can participate in Hold Their Feet to the Fire from home.

Media Fails to Focus on How Best to Close Illegal Alien Loophole in House Health Care Bill

The mainstream media continues to maintain the wrong focus when analyzing the House health care bill’s loopholes.  (H.R. 3200).  FAIR was the first organization that explained that “Section 246 will not prevent illegal aliens from receiving taxpayer-funded health care benefits.”  We also explained that there was nothing in the bill to prevent illegal aliens from enrolling in the “public option” health insurance plan and that the bill lacked an effective enforcement mechanism to verify eligibility for the affordability credits.  (See FAIR’s House Health Care Bill Analysis).

Despite our clear explanation about how the loopholes would allow illegal aliens to receive taxpayer-funded health care, the media has distorted these concerns to suggest that organizations like FAIR have stated that the bill expressly grants taxpayer-funded health care benefits to illegal aliens.  (See, for example, Newsweek, August 29, 2009 and New York Times, September 2, 2009).  The media has then proceeded to “debunk” this particular “myth” about the health care bill, categorizing these concerns as “misinformation” in some cases, and even going so far as to categorize concerns over the bills as “lies and exaggerations.”  (See Newsweek; see also The Stein Report responding to Newsweek’s article).  Let’s be clear: there is nothing in the bill that expressly grants eligibility for the affordability credits to illegal aliens.  But so too, there is nothing in the bill that requires the use of a clear, specified verification method to determine eligibility related to legal status either.  The absence of this requirement is a loophole that will allow illegal aliens to receive benefits, and it is this loophole that concerns the American people.

The noise from the media to “debunk the myths”, likely prompted by calls from the White House, has grown louder in the past few weeks.  The President’s campaign website, Organizing for America, has recently stated that it wanted to engage people to “fight the lies and tell the truth” about health care reform.  (See Organizing for America, September 3, 2009).  It also chastised the media because they “seemed to broadcast any story of conflict or division they could find.” (Id.).  Despite the recent media articles, some in the media have correctly characterized the debate over the issue.  (See, for example, Washington Examiner, August 26, 2009 and HotAir, August 28, 2009).

But at this point, all of this back and forth is really counterproductive.  It appears that Democrats and Republicans in Washington, D.C. agree that the bill should not provide any coverage to illegal aliens.  For example, President Obama responded to a question by CBS’ Katie Couric about whether illegal aliens should be covered under a new health care plan by saying: “No.”  (CBSNews, July 21, 2009).  Likewise, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) responded to a question about the issue by saying: “No, illegal immigrants are not covered by this plan.”  (Topix, July 27, 2009). In addition, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) who is the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee – the Committee that will have to find a way to “pay for” a health care overhaul – said: “We aren’t going to cover undocumented workers because that’s too politically explosive.”  (Houston Chronicle Blog, May 21, 2009).  And House Republicans on the Ways & Means Committee unanimously supported an amendment offered by Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) to mandate eligibility verification to prevent illegal aliens from receiving benefits.

So why, if the White House and Democrats in the House and Senate agree with Republicans on what the policy should be, are the Democrats and their allies in the media spending so much time mischaracterizing an issue and then trying to debunk that issue?  Wouldn’t it be far more productive for President Obama to, as FAIR has called on our leadership in Washington to do, come out and endorse the Heller Amendment and just eliminate the illegal alien loophole altogether?  (FAIR’s Press Release, August 26, 2009).

DHS Allowing Illegal Aliens to Remain in Workforce; DOL Helping Them Improve Working Conditions

Last week, two media reports revealed that the Obama Administration is (1) failing to deport illegal workers, and (2) at the same time, working to entrench illegal aliens as part of the U.S. labor force by having the U.S. Department of Labor work with the Mexican government “to protect Mexican workers regardless of their legal status.” (The Sacramento Bee, September 1, 2009).
 
Last week, the impact of Homeland Security’s new policy on worksite enforcement became readily apparent when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) refused to say whether it would deport 1,500 factory workers who had been fired “because they were unable to prove their immigration status or fix problems with their employment records.” (Los Angeles Times, September 3, 2009). Two months ago, American Apparel Inc. – a Los Angeles clothing manufacturer and retailer well-known for its support for amnesty – announced that an ICE inspection had found that about 1,600 of its workers appeared to be illegal. According to the Los Angeles Times, ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice “declined to speculate on what would happen to illegal workers once they left a company.” Kice told the Times: “The focus is on the employer…on ensuring that businesses employ a legal workforce. Then again, if someone is in this country in violation of immigration laws, they are subject to enforcement action.” (Id.).

Kice’s refusal to confirm that ICE would deport any illegal aliens working at American Apparel Inc. suggests that the Obama Administration is willing to allow illegal aliens discovered in the course of a worksite enforcement operation to re-enter the workforce. This is especially troubling in light of a report released last week by The Sacramento Bee indicating that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is working with “Mexican consulates across the United States as part of a binational campaign, endorsed by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, to protect Mexican workers regardless of their legal status.” (The Sacramento Bee, September 1, 2009). According to The Bee, “[s]tate and federal labor officials joined immigrant rights advocates and union representatives” last Monday at Sacramento’s Mexican Consulate “to address work-related injuries, sexual harassment, salary issues and working conditions.” (Id.).
 
Last week’s events, however, are only the latest in a series indicating that the Obama Administration is not serious about enforcing America’s immigration laws. In March, it was revealed that DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano had not only ordered the release of 27 illegal aliens who had been arrested as part of an ICE worksite enforcement investigation in Bellingham, Washington, but that DHS has also given them work authorization. (See FAIR’s Legislative Update, April 6, 2009). Furthermore, on March 29, an anonymous DHS official told The Washington Post that Napolitano had delayed a series of worksite enforcement operations. (The Washington Post, March 29, 2009).
 
The administration’s refusal to enforce immigration law against illegal alien workers found as the result of ICE worksite enforcement operations may be part of an enforcement strategy that focuses on the identification and removal of “criminal” aliens only. In fact, the administration has made announcements concerning the Secure Communities program (See FAIR’s  Legislative Update, May 26, 2009); the 287(g) program (See FAIR’s Legislative Update, July 13, 2009); and the Fugitive Operations program (See FAIR’s Legislative Update, August 24, 2009) indicating that they intend to abandon immigration enforcement in all but the most serious criminal cases.

Special Interests Fail to Block E-Verify Federal Contractor Mandate

One week after having their arguments rejected by a federal judge (See FAIR’s Legislative Update, August 31, 2009), the anti-enforcement lobby suffered another setback after attempting to use legal maneuvering to stop the federal contractor E-Verify rule from taking effect on September 8. E-Verify is the online, electronically operated work authorization system that employers can use to confirm that their new hires are legally authorized to work in the United States.
 
On December 23, 2008, a coalition of special interest groups – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.; the Society for Human Resource Management; the American Council on International Personnel; and the HR Policy Association – filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Maryland, alleging that a Final Rule requiring most federal contractors to use E-Verify was unlawful. (Final Rule, November 14, 2008; Complaint, December 23, 2008). However, on August 25, 2009, Federal District Court Judge Alexander Williams Jr. upheld the regulation and rejected the arguments made by the anti-enforcement coalition. (Decision, August 25, 2009). The Obama Administration has stated that it intends to implement the E-Verify contractor rule on September 8. (See FAIR’s Legislative Update, July 13, 2009).
 
In a last-ditch effort to block the rule’s implementation, the special interest coalition appealed Judge Williams’ decision and asked Williams to delay the rule from going into effect until after the appeal had been settled. (DJC Oregon, September 1, 2009). However, on September 4, Judge Williams rejected the coalition’s attempt to delay the rule’s implementation until the appeal was settled. This means that, barring an emergency stay from a federal appeals court in Virginia, federal contractors will be required to use E-Verify beginning on September 8. (The Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2009).