House Republicans Pledge to ‘Establish Operational Control of Border,’ But Say Nothing about Border Fence, Worksite Enforcement or Amnesty

By Terence P. Jeffrey | September 23, 2010 | 12:15 PM EDT

Members of the 200th Red Horse Air National Guard Civil Engineering Squadron from Ohio build a road at the border in Nogales, Ariz., in this June 20, 2008 file photo. (AP File Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

( - The Republicans in the U.S. House of Representative released “A Pledge to America” today, laying out agenda items they plan to pursue if they take control of Congress, that commits the party to “establishing operational control of the border” but makes no mention of border fencing, enforcing immigration laws at the worksites of employers who hire illegal aliens or whether the party under any circumstances would grant any form of amnesty to foreign nationals currently living in the United States illegally.

By contrast, the 2008 Republican Platform, approved by the delegates at the 2008 Republican National Convention, committed the Republican Party to completing a border fence, enforcing immigration laws at the worksite and opposing an amnesty.

The House Republicans included the border security and immigration provisions of their pledge in the section reserved for national security issues.

“Our borders are a vital part of our security, so we will act decisively to ensure that the federal government fulfills its constitutional duty to protect our citizens and our Nation, working closely with our state and local governments,” says the pledge.

While stating that the party would work to give the Border Patrol the “tools and authorities to establish operational control at the border,” the pledge does not mention any specific tools or authorities. Specifically, the word “fence” does not appear anywhere in the document. Nor is their reference to any other sort of structure the Republicans would favor erecting at the border.

In a subsection titled, “Establish Operational Control of the Border,” the House Republicans say: “We must take action to secure our borders, and that action starts with enforcing our laws. We will ensure that the Border Patrol has the tools and authorities to establish operational control at the border and prohibit the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture from interfering with Border Patrol enforcement activities on federal lands. “

Another subsection of the pledge titled, “Work with State and Local Officials to Enforce Our Immigration Laws,” says that House Republicans will “reaffirm the authority of state and local law enforcement” to help in enforcing federal immigration laws. This section presumably is intended to contrast with the Obama administration’s move to sue the state of Arizona over an Arizona law enacted this year that requires local law enforcement in that state to check the immigration status of people stopped for other reasons when there is a reasonable basis to suspect the person might be an illegal alien.

The House Republican pledge, however, does not say what the party would do about enforcing the immigration law at the worksites of employers who hire large numbers of illegal aliens. Because many employers pay federal withholding taxes on the wages they pay to illegal aliens--and thus file W-2 forms on behalf of these illegal alien workers that contain either fraudulent or misappropriated Social Security Numbers--the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration already have a listing of companies in the United States that are likely to be egregious employers of illegal aliens because they file hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of no-match W-2 forms each year.

The subsection of the pledge that commits the Republicans to enforcing the immigration laws says: “Work with State and Local Officials to Enforce Our Immigration Laws: The problem of illegal immigration and Mexican drug cartels engaged in an increasingly violent conflict means we need all hands on deck to address this challenge. We will reaffirm the authority of state and local law enforcement to assist in the enforcement of all federal immigration laws."

In the platform approved by the Republican National Convention in 2008, the party specifically committed to completing a fence at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Our determination to uphold the rule of law begins with more effective enforcement, giving our agents the tools and resources they need to protect our sovereignty, completing the border fence quickly and securing the borders, and employing complementary strategies to secure our ports of entry,” says the 2008 Republican Platform.

The 2008 Republican Platform also specifically calls for enforcing immigration laws at worksites. “Experience shows that enforcement of existing laws is effective in reducing and reversing illegal immigration,” said the 2008 platform. “Our commitment to the rule of law means smarter enforcement at the workplace, against illegal workers and lawbreaking employers alike, along with those who practice identity theft and traffic in fraudulent documents. As long as jobs are available in the United States, economic incentives to enter illegally will persist.”

The 2008 Republican Platform also specifically commits the party to opposing amnesty for illegal aliens. "We oppose amnesty," says the 2008 platform. "The rule of law suffers if government policies encourage or reward illegal activity. The American people’s rejection of en masse legalizations is especially appropriate given the federal government’s past failures to enforce the law.”