BORDER PROTECTION, ANTITERRORISM, AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION CONTROL ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - December 16, 2005)
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Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Chairman, this is a very important amendment because if this amendment passes, we go down the slippery slope of 1986.
There are three parts of this amendment. It takes the base bill, which creates one of the four steps, one of the four pillars that I think are vital to doing something about illegal immigration, which is a meaningful employer verification system. And it says, essentially, the penalties for employers who do not use that system and hire people in violation of our law, they get one free bite. They say they did not know, they were acting in good faith, penalty totally waived.
Secondly, you provide a safe harbor for subcontractors. Everybody knows what goes on in agriculture and in construction. Growers hardly at all hire the people anymore. They bring in a farm labor contractor. He hires somebody else. They get the coyote. They go out and they recruit. I did not know what the guy was doing? I get a safe harbor.
They create dummy subs. They have no assets. There are no meaningful penalties. They go off scot-free. This amendment gives them a safe harbor.
This is the employer's way of dealing with your effort to try to deal with illegal immigration, weaken and undermine the whole structure of a comprehensive system.
Now, everyone knows that I do not like the bill because it is not comprehensive, but the way to make this bill right is not to go and do the employers' work in getting them out of the problem. That was our flaw in 1986. Employer sanctions were a joke. If this amendment passes, employer sanctions are once again a joke. And you will be back here in 20 years with millions of more undocumented workers brought in by employers who have no accountability.
And the third part is you put caps on the maximum penalties. The exploitation and money that could be made by hiring people who are afraid to complain, who are willing to work at very low wages and maybe under the minimum wages of our own laws and of the States they are working in, and you now cap the penalties. The bill before it had a serious strengthening of the penalties for these activities by unscrupulous employers. Now you have put a cap on them.
So a safe harbor when they go out to a contractor, so they have no liability. Their first violation, they get it waived. They say, I did not know. I was acting in good faith. I did not know, even though you have a verification system under this bill. And then you put caps on it so that they can make an economic test, that it makes more sense to find the undocumented person who will work at a very low wage at very long hours under very onerous conditions, that they make more money by that, and they have a cap penalty that they know they never have to go beyond.
Do not do this and claim you are serious about dealing with illegal immigration. This is a gaping whole in the whole structure of your legislation.
I urge a ``no'' vote.
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