Politicians, Illegal Aliens, Billions of Dollars and a Truckload of Bull

In December the house passed a bill that Senator Bill Frist endorses. They now want to escalate the status of Illegal Alien to a Felony offense.

The bill they have been referring to is HR 4437, otherwise known as The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005.

The text as referred to Senate Committee:

I am confused. How does changing the degree of an existing crime help anyone?

If illegal aliens are already illegal, how does making them MORE illegal change anything?

I could not find an answer for this one in the bill.

Will it provide the funding to enforce existing laws that currently aren't enforced?

According to the bill they will assess civil penalties of between $500 and $20,000 against employers for each illegal immigrant they hire and criminal penalties of up to $20,000 per illegal immigrant hired and up to six months in jail for engaging in a pattern of employing illegal workers.

Will it provide for more man power (funding again) that doesn't currently exist?

According to the bill a total of 15,400 people will be added: 4,400 Border Patrol agents over six years to the 10,000 Congress provided for in the intelligence reform law passed in 2004, and 1,000 more immigrant smuggling investigators over the next five years.

The bill includes the “One Face at the Border” initiative which is aimed at unifying the inspection process that travelers entering the United States have to go through. Instead of making three stops – an Immigration Inspector, a Customs Inspector and an Agriculture Inspector – travelers would meet with a single primary inspections officer who was specially trained to do the job of all three.

In my opinion this sounds more efficient and a way to reduce cost. The question I have is how it will be implemented? I have been through customs in our airports more times than I care to count. I could say that I definitely like a single stop a lot more than 3 stops after spending 9 or 12 hours on a plane the very last thing I want to do is stand in line for 30 minutes to 1 ½ hours. While I understand that security is necessary – your level of understanding degrades rapidly while standing in that line.

Another thing I see throughout the bill is the phrase:
“Secretary of Homeland Security shall, as expeditiously as practicable, develop and implement _____________”

Develop and Implement?

As expeditiously as practicable?

What about the money?

Let's spell this out real simple. I want you to do as much as possible, as quickly as possible on TASK A. I am giving you no money to do it.

How much do you think will get done?

At least they have provided for ‘accountability”. Well if you consider only worrying about things that cost more than $20,000,000 accountability that is:

“Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security shall review each contract action related to the Department's Secure Border Initiative having a value greater than $20,000,000…”

Did you know that this bill specifies that the Department of Homeland security will be responsible for reimbursing owners of private property that have their property damaged by illegal aliens along the boarders?


Subject to the amount appropriated in subsection (d) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall reimburse property owners for costs associated with repairing damages to the property owners' private infrastructure constructed on a United States Government right-of-way delineating the international land border when such damages are--

(1) the result of unlawful entry of aliens; and

(2) confirmed by the appropriate personnel of the Department of Homeland Security and submitted to the Secretary for reimbursement.

(b) Value of Reimbursements- Reimbursements for submitted damages as outlined in subsection
(a) shall not exceed the value of the private infrastructure prior to damage.

That’s right, the “conservative” federal government is taking on the responsibility of basically insuring private property at tax payer expense. Remember Bill Frist and Tom DeLay have been touting the importance of this bill.

See for yourself how your elected official voted.

They are providing for the detection of radiological materials at ports, sort of.

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall deploy radiation portal monitors at all United States ports of entry and facilities as determined by the Secretary to facilitate the screening of all inbound cargo for nuclear and radiological material.

Authorization of Appropriations - There is some funding authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out subsection (a) such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2006 and 2007

Now remember this means that it will only be detected after it has already arrived at and is sitting in a major U.S. port facility. Also, it is only funded till the end of 2007.

While I do not in anyway dispute this statement: “The United States is engaged in a Global War on Terrorism.” I adamantly believe it to be true. However, by placing this exact statement in a bill that would be signed into law could be a legal problem that needs careful consideration.

Would this statement as drafted in SEC. 118. SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING ENFORCEMENT OF IMMIGRATION LAWS of HR 4437 in fact act as a legal declaration of war by the U.S. Congress in compliance with the War Powers Act?

That this would give the extremely broad powers of placing the United States in a Declared State of War with whomever the Whitehouse feels it is at war with? This would in turn suddenly grant very broad powers to the President?

While this vast bill has some useful recommendations there seems to be very little provisions for funding in it. The only funding provisions are what I listed above. So it once again comes down to what good are laws if they are not funded nor enforced.

You can write tougher laws, but a bluff is just a bluff. Without taking actions on existing laws, writing new ones does nothing but waste money, time and paper. This legislation has some areas that really concern me, some that seems logical and the rest is all election year hot air. The good parts of this bill could probably be reduced to 1 or 2 pages.

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