(CNSNews.com) - Lawmakers have proposed a number of "solutions" to the problem of illegal immigration, from amnesty programs to mass deportations. But one conservative Republican says the key to discouraging illegal immigration is to hit the employers who hire them right where it counts: in the wallet.
"We can no longer attack illegal immigration on the supply side without attacking the demand side," Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) said Monday while promoting legislation she will introduce to provide for detention, mandatory deportation and expedited removal of any illegal alien arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).
The "Scott Gardner Act" is in response to the death of one of Myrick's constituents, who was killed by an illegal alien with five previous DUI convictions. While the DUI legislation received widespread coverage from the "mainstream" media, Myrick's plan to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. received almost no attention.
The former chairwoman of the House Republican Study Committee noted that, while employing an illegal alien is a violation of federal law, the current fine a business faces for doing so is only $250 per illegal immigrant hired.
"I will introduce a bill that raises that civil fine from $250 per alien to $10,000 per alien," Myrick said, according to a copy of her prepared remarks, "and will give the arresting law enforcement agency a cut of the fine."
Myrick plans to call the legislation the "10k Run for the Border Act," a name she said is "self-explanatory."
"I am no mathematician, but if North Carolina has 300,000 illegal aliens and just half of them are employed," Myrick said, "this action could raise at least $1.2 billion that could be rolled back into the fight against illegal immigration."
Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group that supports stricter border control and enforcement of immigration laws, told Cybercast News Service that more will have to change than just the amount of the fine.
"You could make the penalty a billion dollars; it wouldn't matter if you're not going to impose it against anybody," said Mehlman, who claimed that no fines were imposed on employers for hiring illegal aliens in 2004. "The first thing they have to do is actually start fining employers."
While surveys show that at least a majority of Americans want curbs on illegal immigration, Mehlman charged that the response is frequently only "hot air from Congress.
"A few members of Congress are going to have to lose their jobs over this," Mehlman argued, stressing that he is not questioning Myrick's intentions.
"I'm sure she is very sincere. It's not her sincerity that I doubt. It is what will happen after this bill is passed," Mehlman explained. "Why would they be any more likely to enforce the law then than they are right now?"
FAIR complains that both "ethnic interest groups" and business interests are advocating against effective enforcement of limits on immigration.
"They are the ones who are pressuring Congress not to do anything," Mehlman said. "Very often, these are substantial interest groups with substantial resources to donate to political campaign, and that's one of the ways they keep the pressure on."
Mehlman agreed with Myrick that the fine levied on employers who hire illegal aliens must be "a substantial amount."
"A slap on the wrist isn't going to discourage people," Mehlman added, "especially when there are obvious economic benefits to hiring somebody at a fraction of what it would cost to hire an American worker."
Illegal immigrants not only cost American workers jobs, Mehlman argued, they provide "a labor subsidy for the employers."
"They (employers) get to pay the low wages, and then everybody else has to pick up the costs of all sorts of social programs," Mehlman said. "Wherever you go in this country, people are angry about this, and it cuts across ideological lines, it cuts across racial and ethnic lines."
Myrick's proposal came on the same day that Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano declared a state of emergency in four counties that share the U.S. border with Mexico. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson took an identical action the previous Friday.
Both Democrats said that the federal government has failed to stop property destruction, thefts and other crimes associated with illegal immigration and drug running, so their states had no choice but to act.
The emergency declarations will free money to pay for law enforcement overtime, equipment and supplies needed to combat the estimated 500,000 illegal aliens who enter the U.S. every year. That annual influx, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is in addition to as many as nine million illegal immigrants already living in the country.
President Bush has proposed a "temporary guest worker" program that would allow foreign nationals to enter the country for limited periods of time to work in jobs the president claims "Americans will not do." The White House denies that the program is an "amnesty" as charged by critics.
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