Monday, January 29, 2007

Senate Democrats quash amendment to fine employers for hiring illegal aliens

Why am I not surprised?

In the midst of the debate over a bill to increase the federal minimum wage, Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions offered an amendment to the bill now being debated to increase the federal minimum wage.

He offered a common sense amendment that would increase the fines on employers hiring illegal aliens , arguing that laws aimed at cutting back on the hiring of illegal aliens would do far more to help low-income wage earners than just raising the minimum wage. Not only do aliens displace U.S. citizens in the work force, he said, they also artificially suppress wages....something anyone in the building, construction or service trades can tell you about first hand.

"Our whole purpose of the minimum-wage act is to increase the wages of working Americans, particularly low-skilled workers," Mr. Sessions said. "That's a noble goal."

One of the reasons "that those salaries have lagged behind is because of a large influx of illegal immigrant labor," he said. "That is indisputable, and it's not been discussed much here. People apparently don't want to talk about it, but we're going to talk about it."

Sorry Senator. Not in this Congress.

Led by Ted Kennedy (d-MA), the Senate Democratic leaders refused to let the amendment reach the Senate floor.

Kennedy was in typical form.

"Amendment here, Amendment there....amendment on Social Security, amendment on immigration. And all the chortling and laughing as they go on about their business..."

Republicans are "not for those millions of Americans who are heading home tonight, who've worked long and hard, facing their children hoping that at last ... the United States isn't going to fail us," he said. "What do we tell them after five days?"

Of course, after accusing Republicans of stalling, Kennedy then took five or ten minutes to read aloud in to the record a story in the New York Times about soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Sessions, of course, rightly denied that his amendment was a delaying tactic and claimed it was directly related to the minimum wage bill. His provision, he said, gets at the very reason a minimum-wage increase is needed in the first place. He had the wit to refer to his quashed amendment as "comprehensive wage reform," a cute takeoff on the "comprehensive" approach to immigration reform that President Bush and the Democrats as pushing.

In the end, of course it all came to nothing, even though the language of Senator Sessions' amendment came directly out of the employer-sanctions section of the immigration-reform bill approved with overwhelming Democratic support last year.

Sessions was able to get through another amendment on the same bill aimed at federal government contractors who are caught hiring illegal aliens.It would bar them from bidding on future government contracts for ten years

"It's astounding how widespread this problem is," Mr. Sessions said. "In one alarming incident, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was caught allowing illegal aliens who obtained documentation by using fake Social Security numbers to work as contract painters at nuclear facilities."

Now that's even scarier then Ted Kennedy running amuck in the Senate.

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