House Plan Touts E-Verify

House plan touts E-Verify
But migration move takes on long odds

By Stephen Wall
The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA), March 2, 2010

A bipartisan group of Republicans and conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives has introduced a resolution aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.

But political observers say the proposal isn't likely to go anywhere because of the partisan stalemate in Congress. And some Republicans in districts with a sizable number of Latino voters may shy away from the resolution.

The resolution, introduced in January, states that Congress should make the Web-based E-Verify system mandatory for all employers, provide sufficient border infrastructure and manpower, and reject any proposal that includes amnesty for illegal immigrants.

'The American people want us to uphold the laws in this country,' said Rep. Gary Miller, R-Brea, a co-sponsor.

A bill introduced in December by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., that provides a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants must be defeated, Miller said.

'We're continuing to keep the awareness on the issue out there,' Miller said. 'We don't want to sit around and do nothing and allow the (Gutierrez) bill to sneak by.'

Another co-sponsor, Rep. Howard P. 'Buck' McKeon, R- Santa Clarita, said the resolution would help address core immigration issues.

'We as a country must stop inadvertently creating incentives for immigrants to cross our nation's borders illegally,' McKeon, who represents Victorville and Barstow, said in a statement.

Analysts say the measure, House Resolution 1026, stands little chance of passage in a Democratic-controlled Congress. Even though 10 Democrats are among the 54 co-sponsors, they are primarily southern Democrats representing Republican-leaning districts, observers say.

'This isn't going to pass because they're not going to bring it up,' said Jack Pitney, a professor of political science at Claremont McKenna College. 'It's a Republican bill. The House does not pass important legislation by members of the minority party.'

Miller disagreed.

'You've got a lot of Democrats in areas where people are out of work and want jobs,' he said. 'I think you're going to be surprised.'

Adrian Pantoja, an associate professor of political studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, said the resolution is a chance for lawmakers to solidify their base of supporters as the mid-term elections approach.

But he added that denying amnesty may be politically risky for some legislators.

'Someone could get in trouble if they have a large number of Hispanic constituents,' Pantoja said. 'It's doubtful that somebody in a vulnerable position would sign onto the bill.'

Pitney agreed.

'It's a trade-off between exciting the Republican base and potentially alienating future supporters,' he said.

Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, called the resolution 'a politically motivated puff piece that accomplishes nothing.'

'I support enforcement of immigration laws and strong penalties for employers who knowingly violate these laws,' Baca said in a statement. 'This resolution does nothing to help achieve these goals or move us any closer to achieving a comprehensive immigration reform that fixes our broken system.'

Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, supported a bill last year to expand E-Verify and make it permanent, but the effort was defeated on a party-line vote, spokesman Jim Specht said in a statement.

Lewis also worked to pass the Secure Fence Act in 2006 and supported spending $1.2billion to build at least 700 miles of the fence, Specht said.

Lewis opposes amnesty or legalization of illegal immigrants at this time because Congress has not addressed the need to secure the border and develop systems that will stop illegal immigration in the future, Specht said.

'However, he has never been a supporter of Congress passing legislation that tells Congress what it can't do,' Specht said.

Rep. David Dreier, R-San Dimas, said the resolution reflects his support for a common-sense immigration policy.

'Congressman Dreier opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants and supports enhanced border security and enforcement of our immigration laws,' spokeswoman Jo Maney said in a statement.

Maney said Dreier believes the E-Verify program can be expanded upon by enacting a bill he introduced last year to root out document fraud in the employment verification process.