Friday, June 16, 2006

Minuteman Founder Gets it Wrong On Pence Plan

H/t Right Truth.

Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist stated in an article published by WorldNetDaily that he did not support an upcoming bill sponsored by Republican Representative Mike Pence. According to the article this is contrary to what Rep. Pence told a Republican Study group at the Heritage Foundation. I have not seen nor can I verify exactly what Rep. Pence told the study group but there is a transcript on Rep. Pence's blog of a conversation between Mr. Gilchrist and Rep. Pence. This conversation took place on KOGO AM in San Diego while Rep. Pence was being interviewed by Mark Larson.

To Mr. Gilchrist's credit it does not appear to me that at anytime in the short conversation did he explicitly endorse the Pence plan. However, he did heap a good amount of praise for what Rep. Pence is trying to do. Likewise, Rep. Pence had nothing but praise for Mr. Gilchrist and the men and women of the Minuteman organization. Mutual praise notwithstanding if in fact Rep. Pence told a Republican Study Group that the Minuteman organization endorsed his plan he should not of done so based on the conversation that I read. By the same token if Mr. Gilchrist's praise for the work Rep. Pence is engaged in was genuine then he should not have been so critical of the Pence plan in the WorldNetDaily article.

The inference I drew from Mr. Gilchrist's comments were that he was really not all that familiar with the Pence plan. Mr. Gilchrist stated, "I congratulated Congressman Pence on putting forth alternatives but that does not mean I think the alternatives Congressman Pence proposed are the solution. Quite frankly, I don't." He went on to state that the "only solution that has any chance to work is for us to close the borders first, before we start talking about any kind of guest worker program."

Now I am not exactly sure whether Mr. Gilchrist is saying that he believes that there should be a bill passed now that only addresses closing and securing the border or if he is implying that Pence's plan puts that issue secondary to his guest worker program. Either way he is wrong. Rep. Pence's plan clearly puts securing the border as the first and foremost priority. Proposing or supporting a bill that is only focused on border security and has no plan beyond that is not only shortsighted but would never be signed into law even if it did pass through Congress, which it would not.

Mr. Gilchrist did express his belief that the Sensenbrenner Bill (HR 4437) was the only solution. Pence has nothing but praise for H.R. 4437 and the bill he plans to propose includes H.R. 4437. The only language in Pence's bill that is left out from H.R. 4437 is the felony provision for illegal presence and ensuring that "Good Samaritans" are not arrested for helping illegal immigrants.

Gilchrist was also very critical of Pence's plan for "Ellis Island Centers". These are part of his guest worker program. These centers would be set up and run by the private sector and after background and health screenings would issue guest worker visas. This is the part of the plan that draws the most criticism and not just from Gilchrist. It is hard to believe for some that a large number of illegal immigrants would voluntarily leave the country to enter one of these facilities. Gilchrist equates it to a "get out of jail free card".

This is where the stiff penalties for employers that continue to employ illegals after the bill is passed comes into play. Gilchrist among others criticize this by correctly stating that there is already a law on the books that could punish employers and that law should be enforced. Absolutely. The key phrase is should be enforced. He also questions how Pence's plan would prevent employers from continuing to pay their illegal workers under the table and not even asking for their guest worker credentials. Well what prevents them from doing that now? Pence's plan calls for the enforcement of laws against employers that hire illegals but it also gives them at least a little incentive to follow the law. This is done through costly fines, stiff penalties, and by setting up a process where they will be able to get their workers back in a relatively short amount of time.

Now many still criticize this because they are not absolutely sure that there are in fact jobs that Americans will not do. Well, do not delude yourself there are. The welfare state created over the last 35 years or so has ensured that fact. It is a fact that if all of the illegal immigrants that are working in America today suddenly disappeared tomorrow it would greatly damage our economy. In any case before an employer can go apply to one of these centers for a guest worker they must prove that they first tried to hire an American.

I think it is important for people to realize that not all illegal immigrants are bad people. Yes it is true that they broke our laws entering this country. For many that has been the only law broken and they have been very productive members of our society for some time now. I understand that it is hard for some to accept that many will be forgiven without punishment and allowed re-entry into the country. However, if the right plan is put into place then the ones allowed re-entry would be the ones we would want here in the first place. With the right plan in place those that continue to break our laws and are counter-productive to our society will be incarcerated or deported. Finally, with the right plan in place we will prevent, as much as possible, any further illegal entry.

The Pence plan has many more aspects to it and I encourage all to research it for themselves. These are just a few that I have outlined there are many others that help protect American workers. Is it perfect? Certainly not. However, in conjunction with H.R. 4437 and with other ideas from additional members of Congress and the people it can certainly be a good start to dealing with a complicated problem. I have no problem with Gilchrist or the Minuteman organization opposing Pence's plan. But we have to be realistic with our expectations. Simply fortifying the border and enforcing the laws already on the books is not realistic. It is not realistic to think that law enforcement can deport 12 million people. It is highly unrealistic to believe that the sudden absence of these workers would not adversely affect our economy. To me the Pence plan or something similar to it is a reasonable solution and deserves some objectivity.

**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email the coalition and let me know at what level you would like to participate.
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