Dear Cameron,Here's the text of the bill, which was introduced to the House by Rep. Heath Shuler. You can follow its progress at this website, which also links to other versions of the bill.
Illegal immigration is an issue that has generated a lot of talk, but not enough action. I continue to look for ways for Congress to make progress on this issue. Recently, I signed onto a bill that I believe offers some common sense fixes to the flaws in our current system. The bill is the SAVE Act--Secure America through Verification and Enforcement.
Our current immigration system is broken. I am opposed to amnesty. People who try to play by the rules are often penalized. We don't know the identity or the whereabouts of millions of people who entered illegally. There is no transparency or accountability when people conduct business under the table.
I have long supported strong border enforcement, together with a viable guest worker program. I do not support amnesty. The SAVE Act's approach to combating illegal immigration has been endorsed by border security advocacy groups because of its strict emphasis on border security, employer verification and enforcement. Specifically the bill:
-Increases the number of Border Patrol agents by 8,000
-Creates a pilot program to increase aerial surveillance, satellite and equipment sharing between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense
-Increases cooperation between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICW) and state and local law enforcement
-Provides employers with an inexpensive, quick and accurate way to verify employee eligibility
I recognize that many Utah businesses rely on immigrant workers and that an accountable guest worker program in which everyone plays by the same rules is essential. Currently, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses Web Basic Pilot or E-verify. Here's a description. Employers who participate submit information, including a Social Security number, over a secure connection to the Internet. If it checks out, the employer is notified. The system has strengths and weaknesses and improvements are being evaluated.
I will continue to be an advocate for immigration reform that addresses these important areas.
2nd District of Utah
It seems to be very much an enforcement-laden bill, beefing up border security and eliminating much of the lawlessness that currently exists with illegal immigration. It would reduce the ability of illegal immigrants to use stolen or bogus social security numbers, and provide employers with a simple way to verify the work status of potential and current employees.
Enforcement, or the lack thereof, is what caused the last round of immigration reform to fail. Opponents worried that it amounted to nothing more than amnesty without fixing the problems that cause illegal immigration in the first place. "Enforcement First" was a standby of immigration reform advocates. So this bill seems to be in response to that call to action.
However, "Enforcement First" necessarily implies that there is more to do. Which seems to be Albert Ruiz's point in his NY Daily News column. He comments on a letter sent from the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform to Congress and explains,
The SAVE Act, among other measures, imposes mandatory electronic employment eligibility verification. It will screen out the undocumented farm labor force, but as the coalition points out, it does not address the question of who will take their place.It's a very good point, and one that emphasizes the importance of remembering that enforcement can only be a first step. Once existing laws are consistently enforced, it is very likely that much of the US labor force will disappear.
The reason is clear: Contrary to anti-immigration rhetoric, there are no throngs of domestic workers lining up at the farm gates to take over the jobs the undocumented have performed for years.
If the SAVE Act is successful, the next question for Congress to answer is, what now?