Thursday, January 18, 2007

House Democrats Take Their Turn At Immigrant Bashing

Last year, House Republicans pursued anti-immigrant legislation pushed by Advance America that deprived illegal aliens and their families of a wide range of government benefits. House Democrats rightly condemned the mean-spirited legislation as immigrant bashing. A number of Republicans sided with the Democrats and the legislation was defeated. This year, House Democrats are using their new-found majority status to make sure the nearly 90,000 undocumented aliens in Indiana are unable to obtain a job. Rep. Vern Tincher (D) is sponsoring a labor-backed bill, HB 1253, imposing harsh penalties on employers who employ illegal aliens.

Under the legislation, an employer who knowingly or intentionally employs an illegal alien can be fined up to $5,000 for a first violation and up to $25,000 for a second or any subsequent violation. The state's attorney general is responsible for petitioning a court to impose the civil fines. In addition, an employer who has a violation within the 5 most recent years will be ineligible to receive any state or local economic incentive, such as tax credits, property tax deductions, enterprise zone benefits or government-backed loans. The bill exempts nonprofit corporations.

The House Veteran Affairs and Public Safety Committee approved the bill today along party lines. The Indiana Manufacturers Association voiced its opposition to the bill. As an immigration lawyer, I have a number of problems with the bill. Firstly, immigration enforcement is a federal, not a state matter. Secondly, like it or not, the Indiana and U.S. economy as a whole is heavily dependent on the current supply of undocumented workers. If this bill is signed into law and actually enforced, commerce will be negatively impacted immediately. This is not the solution. The McCain-Kennedy immigration reform act is the only sensible approach to the problem. We have 12 million undocumented persons living and working in the U.S. A path to legalization, as provided under McCain-Kennedy, coupled with stricter border enforcement, is the only workable solution. And that's a federal response. The Indiana General Assembly has no business setting immigration policy. Give it up guys.


Wilson46201 said...

I quite agree with AI here - some Hoosier Democrats may be offering this bill as a politically defensive measure against the hysteria being stirred up by the rightwing of the GOP nationally and locally. Just last year a local GOP Congressional candidate was scaring voters with the alarming news that between one half to a million "illegal aliens" were swarming over the border every month and that the only immediate thing to do was to build a fence across our border with Mexico. Only later could other measures be discussed. This is the sort of crude political atmosphere being whipped up for partisan advantage. It's a shame when some Democrats get infected with this virus of xenophobia!

Anonymous said...

Why don't you refer to them by the proper term? They are "ILLEGAL ALIENS" that are invading our country. They are getting free education that they contribute NOTHING towards, and require bilingual staff. They take advantage of EMTALA, demanding free medical at our hospitals, get free housing in our jails...and are a total detriment to our community.

The federal government needs to start treating this for what it is: an invasion!

Anonymous said...

Wilson, have you considered moving back to San Francisco?

Anonymous said...

Gary, how can an illegal alien ever be "deprived of government benefits".

In case you didn't know it, if you are an illegal alien you are not entitled to any government benefits! ...and why would you be?

An illegal alien is an invader from another country.

Wilson46201 said...

Considering I've never even been to California in my life moving back to San Francisco was probably meant as a gratuitous homophobic slur. I'm 100% Hoosier with one side of the family here since the 1840s from Vermont and the other before 1816 from Virginia. Vanilla Scots-Irish. Graduated from Shelbyville H.S. - spent too much time in Bloomington - Ive been here in Indpls since 1974. A thorough Hoosier homo homeboy!

Gary R. Welsh said...

indy4U2c, you need to take that one up with the federal courts, which have said otherwise. Former California Gov. Pete Wilson learned this the hard way to the detriment of his own party.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is that if we continue to bend over and help everyone, we will continue to see ERs close their doors, see good people choosing to NOT attend medical school out of fear of socialist medicine, etc. etc..

Go see the last part of the movie "Children of Men" to see what the future of this country holds. It does not look very pretty.

Anonymous said...

You folks have been listening to too much Sean Hannity.

Undocumented workers are currently a violation of federal law. Since at least 1965.

Why don't we properly staff the INS to investigate and turn over to federal prosecutors those cases which are egregious? Adequate law exists; not enough INS officers exist to properly police these violations. The immigrant and employer thought line is: the further away from any border, the fewer INS agents. And they're correct.

Just like any crime, but especially a non-violent crime like this, if the offenders and their employers sense prosecution is unlikely, they'll flourish. Duh.

All this lather over ERs closing and Docs not wanting socialized medicine: get over it.

If he medical system changes in this nation, it won't be because of this problem. It'll be because greedy docs, hospitals and insurance companies can't get their act together. When current baby-boomers reach 65, and start needing more medical care, they will not accept the system as-is. It's great, if you're well-insured, but even then, it's a paperwork maze. Completely unnecessary, and driven up in costs by ridiculous duplication of services.

And, as for Rep. Tincher, he's a goof, and everyone knows it. But he's one of the 51 who control the House, and while that brings many good things, it also exposes a weak flank...but then again, it IS the Indiana legislature.

Village Idiots do have their representatives in the legislature. A few too many.

Harrison Ullman was right.

Anonymous said...

This is the best bill I have heard from this session. I am a professional who employs 3 people and pays generous wages plus all FICA and taxes. Why should employers be allowed to circumvent the law blatantly? A local dairy has fired all of their legal employees and brought in 10-15 illegal aliens to work for cash of about $5.00 an hour. There are manufacturers in this town doing the same thing. The illegals are paying no taxes for the privilege of being here. I really do not blame them - they are just trying to better their lives. It is the employers I blame. If you cannot stay in business by employgin legal workers then you should be out of business. I am a life long Democrat and I am liberal on social issues. I think most people agree with me on this whether they are liberal or conservative. The only way to stop this is to enforce the law and make employer aware that they will be held accountable under the law. Then there will be no incentive for illegal aliens to come here.

Anonymous said...

10:32, you miss the point entirely.

Immigration is a federal issue, not state. Tincher and his ilk know that. They're pandering, and he's just the boob to do it.

It'd be like your plumber telling you he can fix your HVAC unit. If it makes you happy, even if it's untrue, well, who really wins? Tincher will beat the hell out of this for a few weeks and then he'll move on to something else. He's not the type who can juggle more than a couple issues at once.

I'm frustrated by the situation you describe, too. There may be some state regulations being flaunted here, and the Dept. of Labor, under a decent governor (not this one), would be an ideal place to report those workplace and safety violations.

But immigration is not something they handle, or can handle.

We need about 70-80 INS agents for central Indiana. And, for the caseload they'd generate, probably two or three more deputy US Atrorneys to handle nothing but immigration cases. That would change things, fast.

Anonymous said...

Why should businesses be burdened with enforcing laws that the national government cannot? Why is the Indiana General Assembly venturing into a clearly national government purview when our graduation rate is nearly the worst in the country, our tax system is broken, and we can't fund essential services to keep Indiana from becoming the Mississippi of the North?

Anonymous said...

Why should businesses be burdened with enforcing laws that the national government cannot? Why is the Indiana General Assembly venturing into a clearly national government purview when our graduation rate is nearly the worst in the country, our tax system is broken, and we can't fund essential services to keep Indiana from becoming the Mississippi of the North?

Anonymous said...

"All this lather over ERs closing and Docs not wanting socialized medicine: get over it.

If he medical system changes in this nation, it won't be because of this problem. It'll be because greedy docs, hospitals and insurance companies can't get their act together."

I can't wait for socialized medicie to come to the US. I bet it will be the best care in the history of medicine. It is about time we cap doctor wages at about 60K/year. Who needs to make more than 60K/year? Better yet, federalize all doctors, all medical schools, and hospitals. Ban medical insurance companies. Tax everyone an additional 20% income tax!

Anonymous said...

Verifying an applicants name with their social security number is hardly a burdensome process: - nor is it unfair to expect businesses to obey established law.

Perhaps the justifiable fines generated will be earmarked to a few of institutional structures being impacted.

Anonymous said...

Our graduation rate is not "nearly the worst in the country." Some people thought that under the new system for calculating the graduation rate it would be near the worst. It turned out it isn't. However, when you repeat a lie often enough, people start to believe it.

Anonymous said...

(Wilson, it seems that we have found a common thread... The Douglas family arrived just after the revolution in the Shelbyville area. Shelbyville, and the nearby farming community, is home to my extended family. My impression is that there is a strain of decent thinking in that area that extends back perhaps to those pre-civil war days, when at least some area farms were way stations on the underground railroad. Don't know if you found that to be true growing up in Shelbyville... did you? Racially progressive it seems, the family in and around Shelbyville have been welcoming to me and my partner, and belie the stereotype of rural intolerance.)

Wilson46201 said...

Omigawd Chris - we are probably related! I recall in high school casually mentioning to my mother some name of a guy in my class and my mother would start musing on geneology. I seemed to be kin to half the kids in school !

I doubt if Shelbyville is particularly better or worse in matters of tolerance. As long as you dont make waves, rural areas are accepting of diversities...

Wilson46201 said...

The Shelby County Wilson side of my family were all "Yellow Dog Democrats" and city-folk. They were aghast when I favored Nixon in 1960 - luckily I couldnt vote. The other side from Western Indiana were small farmers and conservative Republicans - it even included Kluxers in the 1920s - luckily it wasnt genetic!

Anonymous said...

I hate to disagree with you, AI, but you’re flat out wrong on this one.

First, they are not “undocumented workers” or “undocumented immigrants.” They are “illegal aliens.” Their presence here is a violation of US law. No PC term can change that. In fact, given the preference of many of them to impose an alien culture upon us – think “English or Spanish?” at the ATM – or even to show unity with a bordering foreign power – think “Aztlan” and signs that read “Los Angeles, Mexico” – they might be better termed “illegal colonists.”

Second, you confuse opposition to illegal immigration with opposition to immigration in general. Thee is a major, major difference. We welcome immigrants who choose to come here and start a new life. Legally. The illegal alien population generally does not. Economic leeches, in fact, who send most of their money back to Mexico (second largest source of revenue to the Mexican economy). Another reason to call them “colonists.”

Third, I don’t think I need to tell you that just because a judge says something doesn’t mean that it should be the law. It is a common mistake among lawyers to believe that just because something is legal, it must be right. There is no legal or moral obligation to provide government services to illegal immigrants. None whatsoever. That some federal judge somewhere in the 9th Circuit says otherwise doesn’t change that common sense principle.

Fourth, illegal alien labor may be good for business, but what may be good for business is not necessarily good for the country. Just like cheap steel may be good for business but not good for the country if we end up going to war with the producer of that steel. There are Americans willing to do the jobs illegal aliens do, but not at the wages the businesses are offering. A common occurrence in the labor market. The solution is to raise the wages. Businesses don’t want to do that. So Americans must suffer because they are being undercut economically by illegal immigrants.

I do not blame the illegal immigrants for coming here, though I am incensed by the unmitigated gall of many of them to demand government services and to attempt to impose their language on us. I blame greedy businesses for hiring them at the expense of those who have a legal and moral right to be here, and the W(imp) administration that has refused to enforce the border.

Actually, if you want the easiest and best solution, the US should annex Mexico.

Gary R. Welsh said...

ProCynic, let my try to address each of your points. In immigration law, the use of the term "illegal alien" is frowned upon today. Practitioners and government enforcement agencies use different terminology. They are referred to as "undocumented aliens", "out-of-status" or "entered without inspection".

In the strict legal sense, their presence here is a violation of federal law; however, border enforcement by the federal government has been lax by design. If the government had truly wanted to discourage people from crossing the border illegally, it would have done more in the past. I submit to you it was a conscientous decision by the government to allow people to come and go freely.

Secondly, Congress has long provided for temporary work visas for agriculture and other seasonal work. Tens of thousands of these work visas are issued annually, allowing people to legally enter the U.S. They are issued social security cards and are able to get driver's licenses. It is well known from past experience that very few temporary alien workers return home when their work visas expire. Congress has repeatedly renewed and expanded this visa programs, contributing further to the numbers of out-of-status aliens.

Our banking industry complained to Congress that undocumented aliens could not deposit their money in US banks because they didn't have social security numbers. To allow banks access to their money, our laws were amended to allow undocumented aliens to be issued taxpayer identification numbers so they could deposit money in US banks, be taxed on their interest and yes, file income tax returns.

Many undocumented persons have been in the US for many years. I speak to US citizens every day in my practice who are married to aliens who either entered without inspection or are out of status. Many have US-born children. If a person is out of status and married to a US citizen, I can usually help them adjust their status to permanent resident status and eventually they can become naturalized citizens. If they entered without inspection, it is a very difficult and often impossible task to get green cards for them, even if they have a US citizen spouse and children.

Our immigration laws are riddled with inconsistencies, contradictions and multiple exceptions. We make it easier for someone to claim asylum in the US who has no prior ties to our country than someone from Mexico who walked across the border many years years ago, has remained here continuously, works hard, pays taxes and has immediate relatives here.

The issue is much more complex than many people try to make it sound. The fact is most of our ancestors immigrated to the US by simply landing here. In a short time, they were granted full rights of citizenship by mere presence without having to jump through any legal hoops. I think people need to have a more open mind to the problem and support a workable solution rather than a harsh enactment designed to punish people for their circumstances, which was of our own government's making.

Wilson46201 said...

Indiana devised our new Constitution in 1851 - we use it still today. To inform Hoosiers of the new document, 50,000 copies were printed and distributed widely. However, many of inhabitants were those pig-headed stubborn ignorant Krauts (who nevertheless were clean and industrious, even if usually drunk from beer). Those Germans never learned English like real Hoosiers so the State published 5000 copies auf Deutsch. Bilingualism is as American as apple-pie and sauerkraut!

Anonymous said...


I agree with you to the extent that the problem is of our own government's making. I would put forth, however, that the government's policy in this regard has not been responsive to the will of the people, who do not want an open border and are sick of having to tell the ATM that they want English. It is the people -- American citizens -- who are hurt by illegal immigration. Whether by lowering of wages in various industries, such as construction and food service, or in a cultural balkanization that you can find in Los Angeles.

I would also put forth that it is the feds' non-responsiveness to American citizens' wishes on this issue that has driven Indiana and other states to look at it. Arguing that it is a federal issue and not a state issue is a legalistic argument that can be seen as a way of doing nothing about it at all. There are things the states can and should do, such as check on the immigration status of those arrested for crimes.

Further, there is an irredentist element to a significant portion of the illegal immigration. People who come here or remain here illegally often want things as in their own country, and are easily convinced by Latino activists and just as many guilty white liberals that parts of this country actually belong to Mexico. The Aztlan movement is part of it, but it is manifested in many ways (see, e.g. Mexican flags at some schools in Texas). It is illegal immigration that has fostered this element. Immigrating legally often removes this element and can create a love for the US that is rare today, particularly on college campuses.

Finally, the term "illegal alien" is indeed frowned upon, but for no logical reason other than PC sensitivity. It is the most legally accurate term.