Ambrose: Immigration bill should be open to many amendments

Some 12 million illegal aliens live in the United States, many of them scared to death of federal officials. They do their best to lay low and pretty much succeed. Now Congress hopes to entice them out of hiding with a $5,000 penalty.

That’s right. There is this carefully negotiated compromise bill that the Senate has come up with, and a chief provision is to lure illegal aliens into meetings with officials where they will first have to figure out how to come up with money they don’t have.

If they can do that and everything else is fine — if they speak English pretty well, for instance — the head of the household goes back to the home country. Ultimately, that’s done with, and permanent residency is achieved, and the family is on the path to citizenship.

Now maybe some of theseillegal aliens will jump at this opportunity, but my suspicion is that the vast majority of them won’t risk a meeting that might send them packing immediately.

There are some good parts to this legislation, such as making legal immigration more dependent on skills and education that fit with available jobs than on whether you have relatives already here. The legislation also would try to set up a system better enabling employers to know whether job applicants and employees were legal.

Mostly, however, the legislation sounds like a mishmash intended to give every side a little bit of what it wanted without providing remedy enough to keep millions more illegal aliens from skipping across the border to take jobs away from our poorest citizens, to lower wages, to increase American poverty and to put huge, additional burdens on local governmental services. One unneeded part of this bill that runs more than 300 pages is a guest worker program inviting 600,000 more illegal aliens into the country.

To pretend as some do that there is nothing much at stake here is to forget about the high unemployment rates among the least educated and most desperate of our citizens. To argue that Americans won’t take the jobs that illegal aliens take is to ignore the fact that, in all the major occupations in which illegal aliens find work, most employees are native born.

Some say that if the different sides start amending the plan to make it better, they will destroy it — every move toward greater sense will be a move that costs a vote either among the Democrats or the Republicans, it’s argued.

But amend away: If this plan dissolves, we might be better off for it, and there just could be a chance it would be slimmed down to what’s most crucial. That’s very serious penalties for employers hiring illegal aliens, and a good system of catching them and taking action against them. When the jobs disappear, the illegal aliens will go home, and they will quit coming.

If the Democrats weren’t searching for Hispanic votes and Republicans weren’t looking to help businesses get the cheapest possible labor, you might get to an answer like this, and maybe, if enough Americans make their anger known, we will.

Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former editor of two daily newspapers. He may be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com

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