Monday, December 19, 2005

The "Oh?" Antiphon

Having sent an e-mail to my Congressional representative, I am now on his e-mail list.

I received this today:

Last Friday, the House passed H.R. 4437, Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, by a vote of 239-182 with my strong and vocal support. This bill is the most sweeping immigration enforcement package to pass the House in the last nine years. I look forward to working with the Senate when Congress reconvenes so that we can send a strong border security bill to the President's desk.

For the first time, employers will be required to verify the legal status of all employees using a national database. This requirement will reduce the incentive for illegal immigration and provide employers with the information they need to hire legal, documented workers.

The bill does not contain any guest worker or amnesty program. I believe Congress needs to pass a strict enforcement package first. This bill provides the Department of Homeland Security with the resources and tools needed to secure the border and enforce the law. Once the border is secure, then we can consider a guest worker plan which requires foreign nationals to return home and re-enter the country legally to work.

The legislation also includes a section that I authored based on my work with the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition. This section provides the sheriffs with $100 million in grant funding to hire, train, and equip deputies, and build detention space to house illegal aliens for deportation. Border county Sheriffs can have additional deputies on the ground within 90 days of this bill becoming law, while it takes up to two years to train and deploy additional Border Patrol agents.

I think this is one of the most important bills the House has passed since I arrived in 2001, and I am very proud to be an original co-sponsor. Below are a few of the other key provisions included in this important legislation:

*Combats the hiring of illegal workers by providing all employers with a reliable method of determining whether or not employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S. This will cut down on the incentive for illegal immigration.

*For the first time, illegal entry and illegal presence will be considered a felony.

*Ends the Border Patrol policy of "catch and release" where Other Than Mexican aliens (OTMs) who are caught illegally entering the country are released on their own recognizance to return at a later date for a deportation hearing. In the last year over 120,000 OTMs were caught and released into the U.S. More than 70% of OTMs released never show up for court. Illegal entry by OTMs has more than tripled in the last year, and the majority of OTMs enter the country through South Texas.

*Provides $100 million for sheriffs along the southern border to combat drug and human trafficking.

*Cracks down on alien street gangs such as MS-13.

*Bars aliens who are terrorists from becoming U.S. citizens.

*Authorizes an additional 1,000 Customs and Border Protection inspectors and the training of an additional 1,500 K9 units.

*Provides secure two-way communication devices for border law enforcement officials. These officials currently lack secure communications devices.

*Requires a joint DHS/DoD strategy to provide Border Patrol agents with military support to increase surveillance and provide intelligence along the border.

Amendments to H.R. 4437 that will strengthen the underlying legislation:

*Eliminates the visa lottery program. This is a flawed program that has allowed suspected terrorists to enter the U.S. through legal channels. Roll Call 653.

*Prohibits the Attorney General from providing any grants to a federal, state, or local government agency that prohibits its employees from sending information on the citizenship or immigration status of an individual to the Department of Homeland Security. This will stop cities like Houston from providing a sanctuary to illegal aliens. Passed by voice vote.

*Reaffirms the authority of state and local law enforcement to assist in enforcing immigration laws and requires the Department of Homeland Security to provide training to state and local law enforcement agencies. Passed by voice vote.

*Mandates the construction of a 700 mile long security fence at the five most heavily trafficked parts of the southwest border to gain operational control of the border. In Texas, this includes El Paso, Del Rio to Eagle Pass, and Laredo to Brownsville. Roll Call 640.

*Increases monetary penalties on employers for hiring illegal immigrants (up to a maximum of $40,000 for each offense). Roll Call 657.

*Requires the Department of Homeland Security to achieve operational control of our borders, which includes preventing illegal entry, within 18 months of this bill becoming law, and requires DHS to submit regular progress reports to Congress. Passed by voice vote.

*Prohibits any alien seeking adjustment of immigration status from obtaining legal status until criminal and terrorist watch lists are checked. Roll Call 654.

*Increases funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program which provides reimbursement grants to states for the incarceration of illegal immigrants. Roll Call 656.

*Establishes the Oath of Renunciation and Allegiance as a federal law so that it cannot be changed by bureaucrats. Also, requires that a foreign embassy of which the new citizen was previously a citizen be notified that that citizen has renounced their allegiance to that foreign country. Passed by voice vote.

*Establishes an Office of Security and Investigations within the Citizenship and Immigration Service to cut down on fraud and corruption within the agency. Passed by voice vote.

*Allows for removal of an illegal immigrant upon the first conviction for drunk driving. Passed by voice vote.
His e-mail message comes bordered with the slogan: "Texas should always be run by Texans." Unless, apparently, those Texans do something Rep. Culberson doesn't like. Such as the radical hotbed of liberalism otherwise known as the City of Houston.

Who knew we were the Berkeley of the Gulf Coast?

I note, too, that the "solutions" offered here are more of the same: treat human beings like property instead of persons, and eventually all the problems they cause will be solved. This is, of course, the kind of "materialism" that "good Christians" like Rep. Culberson and Rep. DeLay effect to despise when it leads to teaching science in schools instead of "intelligent design," but they don't have a problem with it when it keeps them in power and assured of being the only ones to have solutions to problems they identify.

Hey, it's that kind of arrogance that's working so well for George Bush right now!

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