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Public Statements

Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2005

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, Edmundo Garcia said he had heard that the new Bush immigration plan, which would grant work visas to millions of illegal immigrants inside the United States and to others who can prove they have a job, was `amnesty,' and he wondered why he was arrested.''

He said he would try to cross [the border from Mexico to the U.S. through the Sonoran Desert] again in a few days.

This quote from the New York Times on May 23, 2004, shows just how bad things have gotten since the administration's initial immigration policy proposal was announced.

The New York Times article goes on to say:

Apprehensions of crossers in the desert south of Tucson have jumped 60 percent over the previous year.

Nearly 300,000 people were caught trying to enter the U.S. through the desert border since last October 1st (that's October 2003).''

It continues:

After a four-year drop, apprehensions which the Border Patrol uses to measure human smuggling are up 30 percent over last year along the entire southern border, with over 660,000 people detained from October 1st through the end of April.

There are an estimated 8 to 12 million illegal immigrants in this country, with about 1 million new illegal aliens coming into this country every year. Legal immigration is even at unprecedented levels about five times the traditional levels. We now have about 1.2 million legal immigrants coming into this country each year, as opposed to an average of about 250,000 legal immigrants before 1976.

S. 359, the AgJOBS bill, could offer amnesty to at least 800,000 more illegal aliens, and if they all bring family members, which they would be eligible to do, it could be up to 3 million more, according to Numbers USA.

I greatly respect my friend and colleague, the Senator from Idaho, Mr. Craig, and I understand he has many cosponsors for his bill, but I firmly believe S. 359 has some major flaws and is not the way to remedy our problem with illegal immigration.

Even though there are certain criteria these illegal aliens must meet to qualify for temporary work status and eventual citizenship under this bill, it still rewards them by allowing them to stay in this country and work rather than penalizing them for breaking the law this is amnesty.

I also agree with my colleague from Texas, Senator Cornyn, the chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee, who said in Tuesday's Congress Daily when asked about the supplemental bill H.R. 1268, said that he did not want it to ``be a magnet for other unrelated immigration proposals . . . regular order is the best way. . . .''

I agree with my colleague and think we should focus on the supplemental and debate immigration reform separately.

Furthermore, in section 2, paragraph 7, the AgJOBS bill defines a workday as ``any day in which the individual is employed one or more hours in agriculture.''

In order for an alien to apply for temporary work status, section 101, subsection A, subparagraph A states that the aliens ``must establish that they have performed agricultural employment in the United States for at least 575 hours or 100 work days, whichever is less, during any 12 consecutive months. .....''

So if a workday is defined as working at least 1 hour and the alien only has to work 100 work days in a year to qualify for temporary status under the AgJOBS bill, then illegal aliens only have to find some kind of agricultural work, and not necessarily be paid, for 100 hours, or merely 2 weeks, in a year in order to stay temporarily, while robbing Americans of these jobs.

An article from May 18, 2004, by Frank Gaffney, Jr., from the Washington Times entitled ``Stealth Amnesty'' states that once an illegal alien has established lawful temporary residency, ``they can stay in the U.S. indefinitely while applying for permanent resident status.''

``From there it is a matter of time before they can become citizens, so long as they work in the agricultural sector for 675 hours over the next 6 years.''

Furthermore, in referring to the REAL ID Act, which was attached to the supplemental in the House, and I believe is true reform, another article from the week of April 6, appeared in the Washington Times stating:

..... REAL ID is a bill that will strengthen homeland security, while Mr. Craig's AgJOBS bill will not.

One more article in the Washington Times, again by Frank Gaffney, Jr., from April 5 refers to the REAL ID Act as well as AgJOBS says:

The REAL ID legislation is aimed at denying future terrorists the ability exploited by the September 11, 2001, hijackers namely, to hold numerous valid driver's licenses, which they used to gain access to airports and their targeted aircraft.

It is no small irony, therefore, that the presence of the REAL ID provisions on the military's supplemental funding bill is being cited by the Senate parliamentarian as grounds for Senator Larry Craig, Idaho Republican, to try to attach to it legislation that would help eviscerate what passes for restrictions on illegal immigration.

The article continues:

The agriculture sector of the US economy needs cheap labor.

So let's legalize the presence in this country of anyone who can claim to have once worked for a little more than three months in that sector.

We must not reward lawbreakers especially while we have so many people coming to this country legally.

Last summer, I had an intern in my office from Rwanda. She fled during the genocide in 1994. She then came to this country as a refugee and became a legal permanent resident. It took her a year to get all her paperwork for becoming a legal resident and she will probably have to wade through similar bureaucracy to become a citizen as well. It frustrates me that people like her follow the rules and have to wait in the lines and wait for all the paperwork to be processed, while the illegal aliens can sneak into our country, and then, if they do apply for legal status, they slow down the process for those who came here legally. Not only does AgJOBS reward lawbreakers, it also robs many Americans of jobs they are willing to do.

Roy Beck from Numbers USA in his testimony on March 24, 2004, before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims, quoted Alan Greenspan from February of last year as saying that America has an ``oversupply of low-skilled, low-educated workers.'' In fact, according to Mr. Beck's testimony, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of unemployed Americans includes a majority of workers without a high school diploma.

Basically, we have a great supply of lower educated American workers without jobs, while ironically, the main purpose of the AgJOBS bill is to bring in low-educated, low-skilled foreign workers for jobs that these Americans are able and willing to fill.

A recent article from March 31 of this year in the San Diego Union-Tribune entitled ``Importing a Peasant Class'', written by Jerry Kammer, emphasizes this point by saying:

Nearly two decades after a sweeping amnesty for illegal immigrants [referring to the 1986 Amnesty] gave Gerardo Jimenez a ticket out of a San Diego County avocado orchard, he worries that the unyielding tide of low-wage workers from Latin America might pull the economic rug out from under his feet.

Jimenez, who is from Mexico and supervises a drywall crew that worked all winter remodeling an office building three blocks from the White House says, ``There are too many people coming.''

The article goes on to say:

Jimenez's concern reflects an ambivalence about immigration among established immigrants in America.

It also challenges a key assumption of President Bush's proposal for a massive new guest-worker program: that the United States has a dearth of low-skill workers.

This is not true, we do not have a dearth of low-skill workers.

Not only does S. 359 keep able Americans from performing these jobs; it also drives down wages and stifles innovation and technology for these jobs.

The same San Diego Union-Tribune article I just quoted from continues saying:

In Atlanta, house painter Moises Milano says competition for jobs is so stiff among immigrants that house painters' wages have been flat since he came to the United States in the late 1980.

They're still $9 an hour, he said, which would mean they've actually fallen significantly when adjusted for inflation.

And yet many more aspiring house painters arrive every day from Latin America.

Similar concerns can be heard throughout low-wage industries that Latino immigrants have come to dominate during recent decades, including housekeeping, landscaping, janitorial, chicken processing, meat packing, restaurants, hotels and fast food.

The article goes on to say:

Jimenez says his company competes for contracts against subcontractors using illegal workers who are prepared to work for less and who don't expect health insurance, overtime or other employment benefits.

``It puts pressure on his employer to cut labor costs, he said.''

Jimenez explains why the migrants come and how it hurts current immigrants: ``The migrants come because of hunger, because of necessity . . . but I would benefit if someone imposed order,'' he says. ``My work would be worth more.''

Jimenez says that he won't be able to compete with companies that hire illegal workers so that they can pay lower wages.

Not only are workers like Jimenez facing tough competition from companies who hire illegals, but a GAO study from 1988 found that other fields, such as cleaning office buildings, were also experiencing lower wages and more competition as a result of foreign workers.

Cleaning office buildings used to pay a decent wage, however as more foreign workers entered the field, wages, benefits and working conditions began to collapse.

Other labor-intensive fields, such as the construction and the meatpacking industry, have also experienced a drop in pay after an influx of foreign workers. By allowing employers to flood the labor market with foreign workers in these sectors, wages and working conditions have gone down drastically and made these jobs much less attractive to American workers; while making them much more attractive to alien workers.

As for stifling technological advances, according to a February 9, 2004, article appearing in National Review:

the huge supply of low-wage illegal aliens encourages American farmers to lag technologically behind farmers in other countries.

The article continues:

Raisin production in California still requires that grapes be cut off by hand and manually turned on the drying tray.

In other countries, farmers use a labor-saving technique called drying on the vine.

A cutoff of the illegal-alien flow would encourage American farmers to adopt many of these technological innovations, and come up with new ones.

Another, and possibly more important problem with S. 359, is the risk it poses to our homeland security. It has some of the same loopholes that the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, IRCA, contained.

It also overwhelms the already burdened immigration system, not to mention that there are no criminal or terrorist records for these people. For example, an Egyptian illegal immigrant named Mahmud Abouhalima came to America on a tourist visa in 1985. The visa expired in 1986, but Abouhalima stayed here, working illegally as a cab driver.

Abouhalima received permanent residency, a green card, in 1988, after winning amnesty under the 1986 IRCA law. Although he had never worked in agriculture in the United States, Abouhalima acquired legal status through the special agricultural workers program--which is essentially what the AgJobs bill does. Once he had become legalized, Abouhalima was able to travel freely to Afghanistan. He received combat training during several trips there. Abouhalima used his amnesty/legalization and his terrorist training as a lead organizer of the 1993 plot to bomb the World Trade Center and other New York landmarks.

The special agricultural worker amnesty program enacted as part of the 1986 Amnesty saw many ineligible illegal aliens fraudulently apply for, and successfully receive, amnesty. Up to two-thirds of illegal aliens receiving amnesty under that program had submitted fraudulent applications, just like Abouhalima. We cannot afford to allow ourselves to be vulnerable to terrorists by allowing these people to stay in our country. I want to work with my colleague to address this problem of illegal immigration.

Over the last century, several Presidential and congressionally mandated Commissions including the 1907 Roosevelt Commission on Country Life to the 1990 Barbara Jordan Commission on Immigration Reform have been appointed to study immigration to the United States. These seven Commissions each possessing different mandates, membership makeup, studies and historical context in which their work was performed had some similar findings including: U.S. policy should actively discourage the dependence of any industry on foreign workers.

Dependence on a foreign agricultural labor force is especially problematic because of the seasonal nature of the work, which leads to high un- and under-employment and results in the inefficient use of labor.

Strict enforcement of immigration and labor laws is the key to a successful immigration policy that benefits the nation. Unfortunately, AgJOBS violates each of these principles.

It ensures the dependence of the agricultural industry on foreign workers by eliminating any possibility that wages and working conditions in agriculture will improve sufficiently to attract U.S. workers, whether citizens or lawful permanent residents.

AgJOBS actually reduces wages statutorily by freezing the required wage rate for new foreign workers, known as H-2A nonimmigrants, at its January 1, 2003, level for 3 years. In Oklahoma it is currently $7.89.

It also actually discourages agricultural employers from pursuing innovations, such as mechanization, that would reduce their reliance on seasonal labor.

AgJOBS guarantees employers an ``indentured'' labor force for at last the first 6 years after enactment. Employers can pay as little as minimum wage while the newly amnestied workers have no choice but to accept whatever the employer offers them since they are required to continue working in agriculture in order to get a green card.

Additionally, AgJOBS requires the American taxpayer to foot the bill for maintaining this large, seasonal workforce by allowing: Illegal aliens who apply for amnesty under AgJOBS to receive taxpayer-funded counsel from Legal Services Corporation to assist them with filling out their applications; the amnestied aliens to be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits if they are unable to find other unskilled work during the off-season, the amnestied aliens to use publicly funded services like education and emergency health care this is almost free since many of these aliens have artificially low wages thus making their tax contributions extremely low.

Finally, AgJOBS does not contain any provisions to tighten enforcement of U.S. immigration or labor laws. In fact, by rewarding illegal aliens with amnesty, AgJOBS will encourage even more illegal immigration.

By the time the amnestied aliens are released from ``indentured servitude'' under AgJOBS, agricultural employers will have access to a whole new population of illegal-alien workers and the cycle will be well on its way to repeating itself, just as it did after the ``one-time-only'' amnesty for agricultural workers in 1986.

I also believe both the REAL ID Act, sponsored by my colleague in the House, Congressman Sensenbrenner, as well as a bill I supported in the last Congress, are sound ways to strengthen our immigration system. The REAL ID Act would make it more difficult for people who are violating our laws by being in our country illegally, as well as engaging in terrorist activities, to stay in the United States. Unfortunately, I was forced to vote against the intelligence bill in December because the provisions that are in the REAL ID Act were excluded from the intelligence bill.

One such provision in the current REAL ID Act has to do with a 3.5-mile gap in a border fence between San Diego and Tijuana. People are able to come and go as they please. This is where many illegal immigrants are coming through; some of them could even be terrorists.

Apparently, this gap has been left open because of a maritime succulent shrub, which is the environment in which two pairs of endangered birds live. These two pairs of birds, the vireo and the flycatcher, might be harassed--not killed--but harassed if the fence is completed.

I checked with the U.S. Geological Survey and found that there are an estimated 2,000 vireos and 1,000 flycatchers in existence today, and at the most, not building the fence prevents two pairs of birds from being harassed. Is it better to harass two pairs of birds or leave this 3.5-mile gap open for terrorists or other law-breakers to come through? I assume that not building the fence, leaving it open for aliens to trample on this environment, the home to these birds causes more harassment than actually building a fence.

Another provision in the REAL ID Act is the requirement for proof of lawful presence in the United States. This requirement applies to immigration law provisions passed in 1996, which I supported.

The temporary license requirement, including a requirement that the license term should expire on the same date as a visa or other temporary lawful presence-authorizing document, is in the REAL ID Act. This means if you are here on a document--such as a visa--and it expires, your driver's license should expire at the same time. Under current law, this is not the case

The REAL ID Act requires official identification to expire on the same date as a person's visa or other presence-authorizing document. Electronic confirmation by various State departments of motor vehicles to validate other States' driver's licenses is another important item in the REAL ID Act. Had Virginia officials referenced the Florida records of Mohammed Atta, one of the hijackers and masterminds behind 9/11, when he was stopped in Virginia, it is likely they would have discovered that his license was not current. The REAL ID Act will make it difficult for instances such as this to take place.

While I strongly support the steps taken in the REAL ID Act to strengthen our immigration laws, I remain vigilant, and look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that American citizens' individual liberties are not infringed upon.

I also want to be aware of and oppose efforts to explicitly create a national ID card which could contain all of a person's personal information.

Finally, in the 108th Congress, I cosponsored S. 1906, the Homeland Security Enhancement Act of 2003, which was introduced by my colleague from Alabama, Senator Sessions, and my former colleague from Georgia, Senator Miller, and was also cosponsored by my colleague from Idaho, Senator Craig. S. 1906 would give our law enforcement and immigration and border officers the tools and funding they need to do their jobs. More specifically, S. 1906 would: clarify for law enforcement officers that they have the legal authority to enforce immigration violations while carrying out their routine duties; increase the amount of information regarding deportable illegal aliens entered into the FBI's National Crime Information Center database, making the information more readily available to state and local officials; supply additional facilities and beds to retain criminal aliens once they have been apprehended, instead of releasing them, which occurs quite frequently; require the Federal Government to either take illegal aliens into custody or pay the locality or State to detain them, instead of telling those officials to release the aliens because no one is available to take custody; require that criminal aliens be retained until deportation under the Institutional Removal Program, so that they are not released back into the community; mandate that States only give driver's licenses to legal immigrants and make the license expire the same day the alien's permission to be in the country expires.

In conclusion, let's work to improve and enforce our laws and not reward those who break them.

I ask unanimous consent that several pertinent articles be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

http://thomas.loc.gov/

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