Sunday, March 26, 2006

Cracking Down on Illegal Immigrants

Back in December, the US House of Representatives passed a bill (House Resolution 4437), cracking down on illegal immigration. This bill is to be introduced in the senate this week. In reaction to this bill, massive protests were held yesterday in a number of cities, including about 500,000 people in Los Angeles. So, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and read through the whole bill (yes, all 250 pages of it).

Personally, I support this legislation. In my review, I found it to be an extremely well thought-out bill that does a number of much needed things.

Perhaps the biggest thing this bill offers is mandating a more effective system for employers to verify employment eligibility of workers. Under the current system, employers are required to make employees fill out an I-9 form and view and obtain copies of supporting documentation proving an employee is eligible to work, but there is no verification mechanism to guard against forgery. This new system will provide this, and will also alert authorities if a single social security number is being repeatedly used (a possible indicator of immimgration fraud).

The bill also provides for increased border security along the US/Mexico border by building double-layer fencing along a sizeable portion of it. Another major component is outsourcing some border security to local governments by empowering local Sheriff's departments in each of the counties along the Mexican border to arrest and detain illegal immigrants, and providing them federal funding to do so. The building of additional detention facilities is mandated by the bill, to provide sufficient jail space to detain illegal immigrants until their cases can be heard and they can be deported.

Some other components of this bill:
  • Making it a felony to be in the United States illegally.
  • Increasing penalties for alien smuggling and immigration fraud.
  • Increasing penalties for violent or drug crimes committed by illegal aliens.
  • Eliminating the Diversity Immigrant Program ("Green Card Lottery")
  • Automatically deporting illegal aliens arrested for drunk driving.
My overall sentiment towards this bill is, "it's about time." The United States has tried to have its cake and eat it too for far too long - making legal immigration overly difficult while turning a blind eye to millions of illegal immigrants living and working within the country. If you cannot control your own borders, you cannot stop terrorists, drug smugglers, gang hitmen, and other undesirables from entering as well. Some protesters yesterday complained that this legislation criminalizes millions of people, but this is not true: these individuals became criminals the minute they crossed into the US in violation of US immigration law. This bill merely increases the penalties for this crime.

House Resolution 4437 is an extremely well thought-out piece of legislation. It cracks down on illegal immigration, but also includes a number of checks and balances to prevent its misuse. As a foreigner living in the United States myself, I fully support this legislation and the House's attempt to protect America's borders.