Atlanta Journal-Constitution Online, December 29, 2005
All the usual suspects have denounced the immigration-control bill passed this month by the U.S. House of Representatives. Rather than represent the jackboot of fascism, the bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), is a belated response to the public's outrage over Washington's refusal to enforce the immigration laws.
The illegal population in the United States has grown to some 11 million people, not because immigration is some kind of irresistible force, like the tides or the weather, but because the special interests that benefit from uncontrolled immigration -- employers of cheap labor, ethnic pressure groups, left-wing organizations, immigration lawyers -- are not counterbalanced by any special interests that benefit from immigration controls.
Research has shown that the gap between the views of the public and the elite (Big Business, Big Labor, Big Religion, Big Journalism) are wider on immigration than on any other issue. This has resulted in a body of immigration law that looks tough on paper (to satisfy the public), but which is not enforced (to satisfy the elite).
The centerpiece of the Sensenbrenner bill is an attempt to change this, by requiring all businesses to verify new hires' Social Security numbers through an online system, which has been field-tested for nearly a decade. The bill would also expand border fencing to help state and local police deal with the illegal aliens they encounter and make it a criminal offense to be an illegal alien (you thought it already was?).
These enforcement measures are part of a broader strategy, an alternative to the elite call for immigration surrender through amnesty. This strategy can be described as "attrition through enforcement," and would deny illegals what they seek here -- chiefly jobs -- as a way of reducing future illegal immigration and prompting illegals currently here to deport themselves.
The passage of the Sensenbrenner bill suggests that public demand for an attrition strategy is growing, and is beginning to overcome elite resistance to immigration enforcement. That has the usual suspects worried.
Mark Krikorian is Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.