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Immigration: Enforcement or reform?

Published May 22. 2010 09:00AM

As I listen to the news, I'm bombarded with stories of the importance of Immigration Reform. Why is reform necessary? I came to this country legally as an immigrant. Applicants apply in their home countries, are fairly treated and processed for legal entry into the United States. For those who are already in the country on valid visas, there is a process for them to follow so they can get their green card. Based on my personal experience with the process, I believe that the immigration system is fair, and it works well.

The need for immigration reform arises because many people bypass the system. Why go through the immigration process if you can simply walk across the border? Once here, illegal aliens have access to free health care, welfare, section 8 rental assistance, free education for their children and maybe even a pension when they retire.

Immigration reform is just another word for amnesty. Reform will likely permit the 12 million illegal aliens who are here in this country illegally, to have a "pathway to citizenship". You can bet that this will cost taxpayers plenty. Once the illegal aliens are legitimatized, a new batch will start flooding across the unsecured border, safe in the knowledge that in another 10 years, they will be offered a "pathway to citizenship". Is it any wonder that Arizona has passed a law enforcing the federal immigration legislation?

Rather than rewarding criminals for their crime, I believe that it is time to enforce the existing laws. Section 274 of the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act defines as a felony assisting an alien who was in the country illegally by providing transportation, shelter, or employment. Anyone who assists an illegal alien is also committing a felony under this existing legislation. The penalties include fines and prison time. (

Employers are required to have all employees fill out an I-9 form as part of the hiring process. They must also obtain documentation from potential employees to ensure that they are legally permitted to work in this country. This process is not a hardship. In my small business, we have these forms and copies of the required documentation on file for each and every one of our employees. The process only takes a few minutes and ensures that we are hiring people who are permitted to work in this country.

I believe that we should immediately start enforcing this legislation. I have no objection to hiring 5,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to actively seek out illegal aliens, those who hire illegal aliens and those who rent or otherwise support illegal aliens. I'm sure that some of the stimulus money could be used to pay their salaries. Once they are hired and trained, I would send them into businesses, large and small, to ensure that the I9 paperwork is in order and that all staff are legally permitted to work. Organizations that employ illegals, or who have not followed the I9 process should be fined for each occurrence. The most egregious employers with illegal employees should go to jail for up to six months as specified in the law.

The fines collected from this process would certainly pay for the ICE officers. The fines and jail time would stop businesses from hiring illegal aliens. With work drying up, the influx of new illegal aliens would slow, or even stop. It is likely that with no jobs, those aliens here illegally may return to their homeland voluntarily. By enforcing the existing laws, making examples of those who defy the law, and cutting off jobs for illegals, the problem will diminish.

The next step is to enforce our borders. Again, lets hire more border patrol officers, train and arm them, and place them on the border. Any visitor to Tucson or Phoenix has seen the effects of illegal immigration. Citizens have been murdered while others have been kidnapped. Gang wars are breaking out along the Arizona and Texas border with Mexico. It is time to seal our borders to stop human and drug smuggling and also the terrorists who seek to enter our country.

In closing, let me remind you of the three Americans who are currently being held in Iran. Their crime was hiking and inadvertently crossing the Iranian border. Mexico punishes illegal immigration by up to two years in jail on the first offense. A repeat offense results in a ten-year sentence. I do not hear anyone complaining about the Mexican or Iranian laws, yet the Arizona law is considered outrageous. Arizona is leading the way to real immigration enforcement. Pennsylvania should do so as well.

© 2010 Gordon Smith All Rights Reserved

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