(CNSNews.com) - The co-sponsor of legislation to make it more difficult for illegal aliens to find work in the United States said Tuesday that the Bush administration is encouraging the illegal entry by offering amnesty and is trying to cover up the proof of its actions.
U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) has consistently warned that the "Temporary Worker Program," proposed by President Bush in January, would, "encourage millions of people to come here illegally seeking his amnesty proposal."
The White House denies that the program is the equivalent of amnesty, but Tancredo disagrees.
"It's amnesty," Tancredo said. "It's amnesty when you tell people they are not going to be punished for the violation of the law."
The Colorado Republican said there is now proof that the Bush administration recognized the proposal as amnesty for illegal aliens. He pointed to documents that the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
Shortly after the president's January 7 speech announcing the plan, Border Patrol intelligence officers began surveying aliens detained inside the southern U.S. border "for the purpose of collecting data concerning the issue of amnesty" as a motivation for illegally crossing into the U.S., according to the Border Patrol.
"Early results from the Border Patrol survey indicated that President Bush's proposal did, in fact, lure greater numbers of illegal immigrants to the United States," Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch said. "Approximately 45 percent of respondents ... crossed illegally based upon rumors of a Bush amnesty program."
The survey asked randomly selected illegal aliens captured while crossing into the U.S. more than a dozen questions, including:
- Did the rumors of amnesty influence your decision to enter the U.S.A.?
Have you heard from your government or other person, any mention of amnesty in the future by the U.S. government?
Have you been to the U.S.A. prior to this incident, legally or illegally?
Fitton said three weeks after the scheduled six month survey was initiated, the Bush administration "abruptly shut it down." See Video Tancredo believes the White House knew the survey results would undermine their claims about the Temporary Worker Program.
"I'm a Republican and I certainly can support the president on a lot of issues. But on this, as I've said time and again, he is just as wrong as he can be and the American people know it and understand it," Tancredo said. "And they're going to see a lot more. They're going to understand a lot more about the problem when they see this report and the specifics of it and how they tried to cover it up."
'INTERNAL USE ONLY'
That alleged cover-up came in the form of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service (CBPS) memorandum entitled "Public Affairs Guidance, White House Approved Talking Points, Temporary Worker Program." The memo was marked in large, bold type, in all capital letters, "INTERNAL USE ONLY," and contained several admonitions to CBPS press officers:
"Do not talk about amnesty, increase in apprehensions or give comparisons of past immigration," and "Do not provide statistics on apprehension spikes or past amnesty data."
The CBPS declined to produce a report on the survey, or to release its findings until compelled to do so by the Judicial Watch lawsuit. Tancredo said he was frustrated but not surprised by the attempt to suppress the information.
"I am very concerned about the fact that this seems to be a pattern. This is not a unique event," Tancredo said. "We have, in the past, asked for a lot of documents. My office has more than once been stonewalled by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and their predecessor agencies." See Video
Tancredo has written Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, requesting an explanation.
"The timing of the survey's start and early dismissal, and the DHS gag order and stonewalling of Judicial Watch's request suggest that the administration is playing politics with border security data," Tancredo wrote. "I hope that this is not the case."
Tancredo stressed that he is not opposed to the concept of a guest worker program, as long as it is designed to discourage illegal immigration.
"We keep saying that the way to do this is to give them amnesty, create a 'guest worker program,'" Tancredo noted. "You can have a guest worker program. I have proposed a guest worker program. [But] it has nothing to do with amnesty, and it can't be implemented until you've secured your borders and until you have gone after employers and tried to stop the demand side," he said.
Verifying employment eligibility
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Tancredo is a cosponsor of the Illegal Immigration Enforcement and Social Security Protection Act (H.R. 98), which would make it more difficult for employers to accept fraudulent documentation from illegal aliens seeking work.
"We can secure the border. We just choose not to. It can be done with the application of the military, if we need to," Tancredo said. "We could stop illegal immigration or reduce it dramatically on our borders. Then, the other side is to go after employers, to make it impossible for them to hire people who are here illegally.
Multiple calls to the White House seeking a response to this report were not returned.
(Cybercast News Service Correspondent Jered Ede contributed to this report.)
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