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Immigration in Congress - 109th Congress Highlight

Reactions After the Passage of Rep. Sensenbrenner’s Bill, H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005

GT’s Business Immigration Group

The Business Immigration Group was disappointed by the passage of Rep. Sensenbrenner’s ‘enforcement only’ legislation. We do not believe that this is the best approach, nor do we believe the specifics of the legislation to be realistic or practical. GT is working diligently with Members of the Senate on real comprehensive immigration reform that address the issues that are plaguing our immigration system. To this end GT’s Business Immigration Group firmly supports a temporary worker program and some form of an earned adjustment program as part of legislation to be introduced by the Senate.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO)

CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 4437 would cost an estimated $1.9 billion over the five year period between 2006-2010. These costs would continue and grow significantly after 2010, as additional requirements of the bill would be implemented. Specifically, the bill which directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), within two years from the bills enactment, to extend a system to verify the eligibility of persons for employment in the U.S. CBO estimates that this would cost about $405 million over the 2006-2010, including $185 million for DHS, $200 million for Social Security Administration (SSA) and $20 million for other federal agencies.

The House bill was adamantly opposed by an unusual coalition of business lobbies; ethnic groups; religious organizations; and labor unions that contend the measure is too harsh on illegal immigrants and imposes unworkable requirements on employers. Below are selected reactions.

Business Community

Discouraged by the passage of the H.R. 4437, and the unfunded mandates it places on employers and the absence of a temporary worker program, the business community stands united to work with the Senate on a real comprehensive immigration reform bill.

In response to the passage of the bill, large organizations, including the California Restaurant Association, believe that the one of the bills objectives, to end the widespread use of fake Social Security numbers by illegal immigrants, does not differ from the current requirement placed on employers. Although the most good actor employers require eligibility documents, the problem lies in determining whether the documents are valid and legitimate. As noted by Kelly Knott, a lobbyist for the Associated General Contractors of America, "There are a lot of great fake IDs out there." Lastly in reaction to there not being a temporary workers program in the bill, businesses believe that the combination of cutting off the stream of illegal immigrants while not providing a legal means to employers’ need for workers "seems like the perfect storm to cripple the economy," said Geoff Burr, a spokesman for Associated Builders and Contractors.


As it stood in opposition of H.R. 4437, the Laborer’s International Union of North America stated that “Workable immigration reform must recognize the traditional roles of hiring halls and include a path to legalization for current undocumented workers. […] Representative Sensenbrenner’s bill fails on both counts.” Unions stand united to work with the Senate and promote an earned adjustment program that deals with the reality faced by undocumented immigrants and employers. Moreover, Service Employees International Union, said the bill "criminalizes the act of survival." "This bill does not work," said Ray Baeza, a spokesman for SEIU Local 715. "In order to help all of us, immigration reform should lead to a path of legalization. This does not help businesses that need to hire workers."

Human Resource Executives

In opposition to the bill, The Association of Senior Human resource Executives stated that, “The bill focuses exclusively on tightening border controls rather than addressing shortages of certain essential workers. The centerpiece of H.R. 4437 significantly increases the burden on employers to help the government police our borders by verifying the employment eligibility of all of their employees, not just new hires as under current law. The bill requires all eight million employers to verify the status of 140 million employees through an automated process—the so-called Basic Pilot Program—that currently serves only 3600 employers. Yet, according to the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, if the current glitches in the program are not fixed, as many as 700,000 legal workers a year could lose their job because of administrative errors. As we noted in our letter to the House, there is "no sound policy reason" for forcing employers to use the program until Congress has first "worked towards the perfection of that system through, among other things, enhanced identification cards." The business community strongly opposes the bill and, if it is passed by the House, is looking towards Senate passage of a more responsible measure early next year.”