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Simple Steps Would Reduce Illegal Immigration

Op-Ed

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Simple Steps Would Reduce Illegal Immigration

By Elton Gallegly

While some believe it may be physically impossible to deport 20 million illegal immigrants, two simple programs would put a sizable dent in the problem with very little effort.

The United States can start by deporting anyone arrested for any crime who is illegally in the United States. Second, by matching workers with Social Security numbers, we can quickly identify and take away the jobs that entice the rest to come here.

The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act included legislation I authored to screen for criminal aliens at local jails. It started as a pilot program in Anaheim and Ventura County. It was a proven success. Sixty-six percent of the inmates screened at the Ventura County Jail during the first six months of the program were found to be illegal immigrants and Congress voted a year later to expand the program.

Unfortunately, successive administrations refused to prioritize it and today very little jail screening takes place. As a result, we have cases like the three brothers in New Jersey whose repeated scrapes with the law, including drug convictions, were swept under the rug until they were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit mass murder at Fort Dix.

Or cases like Jose Carranza, the suspected ringmaster of the execution murders of three innocent college students. Carranza was indicted earlier this year on 31 counts of sexual assault on a girl younger than 9. Instead of being held on immigration charges, he was granted bail.

Unfortunately, there are many, many more examples. In fact, while illegal immigrants make up about 7 percent of the U.S. population, they comprise nearly 30 percent of the inmates in federal prisons. A California Department of Justice report estimates that 60 percent of Los Angeles 18th Street Gang members are illegal immigrants. It should be a priority to identify and deport them.

When someone is arrested and he cannot prove legal status in the United States, he should be held for Immigration and Custom Enforcement and deported as soon as his legal case is adjudicated. This simple program would make America's streets safer and, therefore, should be a high priority for local law enforcement as well as federal law enforcement.

Identifying illegal workers is equally simple. The same 1996 law that authorized the jail program also required federal agencies to share information with the then-INS concerning illegal immigrant status. Despite this, the IRS and Social Security Administration have ignored multiple cases of workers using the same Social Security number or cases where the numbers do not match the names. In 2005, the Social Security Administration sent 9.6 million letters to workers whose Social Security numbers were invalid. But it took no further action. Nor did the IRS. Nor did Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the new INS.

You cannot legally work in the United States without providing an employer with a Social Security number. Illegal immigrants often provide fictitious Social Security numbers, many times adopting the identity of a hard-working American who is unaware his identity has been stolen until he is refused a loan or contacted by an irate creditor.

I introduced two bills earlier this year to help address this problem. The Identity Theft Notification Act of 2007 would require the Social Security Administration to investigate if it receives W-2 forms with the same Social Security number but different addresses. If the Social Security Administration finds evidence of fraudulent activity, it would be required to notify not only the Department of Homeland Security, but also the legal possessor of the Social Security number. This would enable innocent people to take steps to protect their credit, identity and good name.

In addition, the Employment Eligibility Verification and Anti-Identity Theft Act would require workers to resolve discrepancies if their names and Social Security numbers do not match, and require employers to terminate workers who do not resolve discrepancies. The Social Security Administration also would be required to notify the Department of Homeland Security so it can investigate whether a crime has been committed.

The Employment Eligibility Verification and Anti-Identity Theft Act was incorporated in the Secure Borders FIRST Act, which was introduced in early July by Reps. Peter King of New York and Lamar Smith of Texas. I am an original cosponsor of the bill. In addition to these provisions, Secure Borders FIRST would mandate the use of an electronic employment eligibility program known as the Basic Pilot Program, which also comes from a provision I authored in the 1996 law.

Matching Social Security numbers with workers and deporting illegal immigrants who break other U.S. laws would go a long way in decreasing illegal immigration very simply and very easily.


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