Jim Brown
March 20, 2008

The immigration reduction group Numbers USA is chastising House Democratic leaders for blocking legislation designed to reduce illegal immigration and its devastating impact on the country.

Supporters of the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act (HR 4088) need 218 signatures on a discharge petition to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. The legislation, sponsored by Congressmen Heath Shuler (D-North Carolina) and Brian Bilbray (R-California) would beef up border security, as well as crack down on illegal immigrants and employers who hire them.

Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations for Numbers USA, says Democratic leaders are blocking the bill because they do not want an enforcement-only measure to pass Congress. Those legislators, she argues, realize that the only way to get any form of amnesty or increase in visas for temporary or permanent workers is to attach it to an enforcement measure.

“[T]hey know that the American people want enforcement and will hold them responsible if they pass something that does not look like an enforcement bill,” says Jenks. “So essentially they are trying to negotiate a deal to attach various kinds of visas, including amnesty visas, to this bill.”

Democratic leaders, she contends, are speaking out of both sides of their mouth on the issue of illegal immigration. “The [Congressional] Hispanic Caucus is driving the negotiations to attach an amnesty to the SAVE Act,” she explains. “They want something that they can go home and tell their special-interest constituents that they voted for in terms of amnesty.”

At the same time, she notes, Democratic leadership was quick to point out that the recently approved tax rebates would not go to illegal aliens. “[But] in fact, the way the House passed that economic stimulus package, illegal aliens would in fact have been eligible for rebates,” Jenks continues. “It was partially fixed in the Senate with an amendment, but there are still going to be some illegal aliens who get tax rebates.”

Jenks predicts House Democrats will eventually allow a vote on the bill before enough signatures are collected for the discharge petition — so Republicans will not be given control of the floor. So far, only a handful of Democrats have signed the discharge petition.

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