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SUNDAY, APRIL 9, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Congress, president duping us on illegals

President Bush and congressional leaders want U.S. voters to believe that the illegal immigration problem is so massive that it can't be resolved effectively without great upheaval and disrupting the economy.

The truth is that neither Democrats nor Republicans have the resolve to stop illegal immigration and begin an orderly reversal of the trek north. Instead, they ring their hands and say that mass deportation won't work.

They are correct. Neither will a fence work. The answer is not in cracking down on the illegal workers but in systematically targeting the people who supply them jobs.

That's the big rub. That's where Congress would start meddling in the workforce, from mom and pop grass-cutting operations to labor-intensive mega businesses.

The bill Congress is supposed to be crafting as a compromise is no good. It's no better than current enforcement of existing law. It rewards illegal workers and is an invitation for others to cross the borders to find work.

Illegal immigrants began, and continue, flooding across the Mexican border because they could find work in the United States. Employers hire them to fill a void, and because they work for cheaper wages.

That means greater profits for employers, but depresses wages for low-level U.S. workers, and creates a strain on taxpayer-financed public education and medical and social services.

If Congress would insist that employers hire only legally documented workers and if communities cut off social benefits, illegals would have no reason or way to stay here.

Legal immigration made the United States great. Congress should not shut the door on people getting to this land of milk and honey legally. But follow the money trail; it's why Congress and President Bush refuse to address the issue honestly.

They are selling out Middle America.

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