Released 18 March 2006  By Anne C. Mulkern - Denver Post
Tancredo draws guest-worker line
By Anne C. Mulkern Denver Post
March 17, 2006
Washington - Rep. Tom Tancredo and 70 other U.S. representatives warned in a letter Thursday that any legislation passed in the Senate that allows illegal immigrants to work legally will hit a roadblock if it comes back to the House.
The Senate's Judiciary Committee for the past two weeks has been debating an immigration bill that includes a guest- worker program, backed by President Bush and many businesses.
"Some of these proposals are fundamentally incompatible with the desire of the American public for real immigration reform and their clear opposition to reform proposals that amount to little more than thinly disguised attempts to provide amnesty," the House members said in the letter to Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa. Tancredo, a Littleton Republican, initiated the letter.
"If the Senate were to pass such a proposal, we believe it would doom any chance of a real reform bill reaching the president's desk this year," the letter adds.
Republican Reps. Bob Beauprez of Arvada and Joel Hefley of Colorado Springs are among those who signed the letter.
Tancredo and most of the 70 other lawmakers pushed for passage of a bill in the House that imposes new border-security measures, including tougher penalties for being in the country illegally. The House bill does not include a guest-worker provision.
Late Thursday, Specter's committee reached what appeared to be agreement on many key provisions, and Specter set a vote for March 27 on immigration reform legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, meanwhile, said he planned to introduce his own bill that focused primarily on border security. He has threatened to bring that measure to the Senate floor for a vote if the Judiciary Commitee does not pass a bill by this week.
"Our country needs security at our borders in order to ... make America safer from foreign criminals and terrorists," Frist said.
Here is the text of a letter sent Thursday by U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., and 70 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., concerning immigration reform:
Dear Chairman Specter,
As you know, the House of Representatives passed an immigration reform bill in December. The bill takes several steps to restore order to our anarchical borders and to reform our dysfunctional immigration system. Among other provisions, the bill calls for the construction of a security fence along our southern border, streamlines federal and local law enforcement cooperation on immigration matters, and helps protect American workers by mandating an instant check system for businesses to verify the legal status of their employees. We worked diligently to make sure that our vision for reform passed the House, and we were pleased that it garnered broad bipartisan support.
No reasonable observer - regardless of his or her policy perspective - believes that the current system serves the national or economic security interests of our country. We are all aware of how our porous borders and our lax interior enforcement create opportunities for criminals, whether they are human smugglers, illegal employers or persons sneaking into our country to do us harm. Americans demand that we fix our broken system, now.
We believe that both houses of Congress have a shared responsibility to solve this problem. Unfortunately, we have grave concerns about several of the proposals which have been presented to your committee. We are concerned that some of these proposals are fundamentally incompatible with the desire of the American public for real immigration reform - and their clear opposition to reform proposals that amount to little more than thinly disguised attempts to provide amnesty. If the Senate were to pass such a proposal, we believe it would doom any chance of a real reform bill reaching the President's desk this year.
In order to provide a roadmap to successful reform, we ask that you consider several fundamental principles when you are crafting your committee s proposal:
Border Security: We must make an honest attempt to secure our borders through greater manpower and infrastructure resources - over and above what Congress has already authorized.
Interior Enforcement: No solution to illegal immigration will work until we begin to prosecute employers who lure illegal aliens into the U.S.
Enforcement First: No foreign worker plan can function unless we have operational control of our borders and unless we know who comes in and out of our country.
No Amnesty: Rewarding persons who have broken the law with an advantage that they would not otherwise have had encourages more illegal behavior and is unjust to immigrants who came to the U.S. legally.
Our country desperately needs secure borders. Our constituents demand them. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues in the Senate to pass immigration reform this year.
Representatives Aderholt, Akin, Alexander, Bachus, Baker, Barrett, Bartlett, Barton, Beauprez, Blackburn, Boozman, Bradley, Burgess, Burton, Campbell, Carter, Cubin, Culberson, Deal, Duncan, Everett, Forbes, Foxx, Garrett, Gingrey, Gohmert, Goode, Gordon, Graves, Gutknecht, Hefley, Herger, Hoekstra, Hostettler, Hunter, Issa, Istook, Jenkins, Johnson (TX), Jones (NC), King (IA), Kingston, Kuhl, Marchant, McCotter, McHenry, McKeon, Gary Miller, Myrick, Ney, Norwood, Otter, Paul, Pence, Pickering, Pitts, Poe, Price (GA), Ramstad, Rohrabacher, Royce, Ryun, Sessions, Simpson, Smith (TX), Stearns, Sullivan, Tancredo, Taylor (NC), Wamp, Weldon (FL)