SAVE Act Held Hostage to Special Interest and Political Posturing
The Secure America through Verification and Enforcement, or SAVE Act (H.R. 4088), has broad bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and even broader support among the American public, which is demanding meaningful enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws. The legislation would make it mandatory for all employers use the E-Verify system to check the immigration status of all workers within four years of the date of passage. It would also improve border security and increase penalties imposed on those convicted of alien smuggling. The SAVE Act would institute nationally many of the same provisions adopted by states including Arizona, Georgia and Oklahoma and which have been proven to reduce the number of illegal aliens living in those states.
The bill was authored by Representatives Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), and 185 members of the House have signed a discharge petition addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking her to allow H.R. 4088 to come to the floor for a vote. And yet, this common sense approach to immigration enforcement is in serious danger of being killed. Apologists for illegal immigration continue to insist that the price of enforcing our immigration laws must include amnesty for millions of illegal aliens, while others in both parties, at the behest of business interests, want to link the SAVE Act to increases in guest worker programs.
In spite of broad bipartisan support, the House leadership has resisted moving the SAVE Act through the legislative process, allowing only token hearings to take place. Pelosi and others in the Democratic leadership have pressured Democratic members not to sign the discharge petition, putting some of their own members who are co-sponsors of the bill in an awkward situation. The signatures of 218 House members are required to force a bill to the floor for a vote — a total that could easily be achieved if 39 Democrats who are co-sponsors of the SAVE Act but have not yet signed the discharge petition were to sign it.
While pro-amnesty forces, including the House Hispanic Caucus, are attempting to undermine H.R. 4088 from one end, cheap labor forces are attacking it from the other. Even as the U.S. economy slips into recession and unemployment is on the rise, business interests are pressing hard for increases in both skilled and unskilled foreign guest workers.
The House Republican leadership, while forcefully resisting pressure to attach any amnesty provisions to the SAVE Act, has been working behind the scenes to satisfy the demands of corporate lobbyists to double or triple the annual allocation of H-1B visas. Similarly, members of both parties, led by Representatives Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Charles Boustany (R-La.), have been working to increase the number of low-skilled guest workers admitted into the U.S. each year.
The resistance of so many members of Congress to allowing a straight up or down vote on the SAVE Act calls into question the sincerity of their commitment to immigration law enforcement. The SAVE Act contains the provisions that nearly every member of Congress has publicly endorsed at one time or another during the debate about immigration policy.
While FAIR understands that the SAVE Act won’t solve all of the problems with our immigration policy, it is a bill that, if passed and enforced, would represent a significant improvement over the status quo. An effective immigration enforcement strategy must include enhanced border enforcement, an effective employment authorization system, and harsh penalties against criminal elements that profit in the trafficking of human beings.
FAIR will continue to press for passage of the SAVE Act unencumbered by provisions to satisfy the special interest demands of amnesty advocates and cheap labor employers.
Updated May 2008