Illegal Aliens’ Identity Crisis

, Emmanuel Opati, Leave a comment

The issue of illegal immigration has for a long time been a topic of high political and economic contention in Washington, D.C. Being an election year, many politicians are walking a fine road appealing to both sides of the illegal immigration debate.

Speaking at the Heritage foundation recently, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said that “Illegal immigration is complicated, but it can be resolved. And it must be resolved in a way that upholds both our laws and our highest ideals.”

Sen. Sessions noted that “new statistics illustrate the effectiveness of just a handful of targeted border activity. Illegal entries at the border are down by approximately 20%. U.S. Border Authorities arrested just under 877,000 illegal crossovers in fiscal year 2007, in the past year the arrests were 1.1 million.”

He cautioned voters to ask candidates vying for Presidential nomination their positions on illegal immigration. “More importantly, candidates must demonstrate a firm personal conviction that illegal immigration will end under their Presidency and a lawful system of immigration that furthers a national interest will be created,” he added.

He said construction of a border fence should be among the tasks of the next president. “Secure Fence Act of 2006 requires the construction of 700 miles of fencing on the Southern border (not virtual fencing but actual fencing), to date less than 200 miles have been constructed.” He added that the Bush Administration promised to construct additional 370 miles of fencing by the end of this fiscal year.

Sessions also called on the next President to make illegal border-crossing a felony. He said “according to (internal documents) documents of Department of Homeland Security, it is critical that the second offense of illegal entry carry a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail and that a third offense carry a minimum sentence of 90 days in jail.” “If elected President, will you deter illegal entry by expanding the already successful zero tolerance prosecution policy from three to twenty border sectors and support statutory mandatory minimums for the crimes of illegal entry and re-entry for conviction of a felon?” he asked.

Noting that this would be a challenge given that there are only 20,000 Federal Immigration Officers within the United States, he proposed that “we need to partner with the 700,000 State and local Law Enforcement Officers who are central to effective interior enforcement.”

He also observed that “27% of our Federal prison population is composed of non-citizens (and these are not people being in prison as a result of being stopped at the border), these are for drug crimes and violent crimes and crimes of that nature.”

He believes that best way to deal with illegal immigration is through the provision of tamper-proof identification card and employment verification. He said “The president of the National Border Control Council told our Senate Judiciary Sub-Committee that the only meaningful solution to dealing with this problem is to go after the root. We have to cut off access of people to having jobs in this country who have no right to be here. Today the employment verification system at the workplace still does not work.
The tamper-proof identification card for any aliens authorized to work in our country is essential to a modern enforceable employment system.”

He added that “we are a nation of immigrants and this history disposes us to favor immigration and causes us to have great sympathy to those who desire to come here to achieve a better life.”

However, he noted that special interests, business and political action groups in Washington, D.C have undermined meaningful resolutions to fix the illegal immigration issue. One very active action group is the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, a group formed in 2005 to “ensure there was an Irish voice in the nationwide debate over immigration.”

Sen. Sessions says that a combination of these interests “has resulted in what I think is one of the most extensive and long processes of unlawfulness and political deception.”

For decades now, the U. S. Congress as well as a number of American presidents repeatedly promised to fix the immigration system and many laws have been passed to that effect. In fact in some cases there are laws that overlap exacerbating rather than ameliorating the problem. For instance, employers are required to ask for identification document when hiring people. However, employers cannot reject someone’s identification document even if it looks suspicious or else the employer is immediately susceptible to anti-discrimination lawsuits under the Equal Opportunity Employer Act.

Emmanuel Opati is an intern at the American Journalism Center a training program run jointly by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.