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Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I thank the chairman of the committee and the ranking member for the opportunity to offer this for consideration. And I do realized that the chairman has reserved a point of order. I hope he doesn't insist upon it, but if he does, I certainly understand, as we share, I think, the same goal of cracking down on illegal aliens.

What this amendment does, Mr. Chairman, is say that if you sell or contract or do business with the Federal Government, then you need to be part of the Social Security verification project known as the Basic Pilot. And the Basic Pilot program is a tool for employers to verify the Social Security numbers of employees.

We all know that the Federal Government is one of the worst offenders of hiring contractors and subcontractors who in turn hire illegal aliens and do a lot of government work. We also know that since the inception of ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, Julie Myers, the head of it, has stated that there have been hundreds and hundreds of arrests at military installations, power plants, chemical plants, sensitive facilities, and truly this would include a lot of the agencies and a lot of the contractors in work that is done in the Department of Interior for work on our national parks and other land areas.

There was one very high-profile case where a defense contractor had hired illegal aliens to work in a shipyard in Mississippi, another one at an Air Force base in North Carolina, and another one at a Marine base in Virginia. Those are more defense oriented, but this would certainly apply to all Federal agencies.

The success of this program, though, is that 92 percent of the prospective employees have their Social Security number verified within seconds of the work authorization. So this isn't requiring that employers have some cumbersome, unworkable paperwork requirement. In fact, 50 percent of the employers who use this program surveyed have said that it is an excellent, good, to very good program. And 98 percent say that they are likely to continue to use this program. It is a very good tool, I think to crack down on Social Security verification. And as we know, right now the U.S. Senate is debating an enormously unpopular bill which seeks comprehensive immigration reform.

This is a step. The American people have sent a clear signal that they want immigration reform but they would like it in the form of steps rather than comprehensive.

So with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I just want to say as a member of the Appropriations Committee now going on 14 years, I remember several years ago when Congressman David Skaggs of Boulder, Colorado, offered an amendment in the committee which reinstituted the War Powers Act, because at that time we were concerned that President Clinton was getting us involved in a war in Bosnia; so we put it on that bill. And I believe last session we put on the continuation of government on an appropriation bill, and I am a firm believer that we do routinely authorize on appropriation bills. We just need to agree with the authorization.

So I want to say to my friend I have seen things accepted and things rejected.

Mr. DICKS. Is this a discussion on the point of order, Mr. Chairman, or are we wandering around?

Mr. KINGSTON. This is a speech and it is a very good speech.

The Acting CHAIRMAN. Members will refrain from arguing beyond the point of order.

Mr. KINGSTON. In any case, Mr. Chairman, I understand where the distinguished chairman of this committee is coming from and we will continue to work with him, the Appropriations Committee, and all Members of Congress to try to get Social Security verification done by businesses that contract with the Federal Government.


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