March 15, 2007

Brien's Bill A No-Brainer

Marc Comtois

Woonsocket Rep. Jon Brien's bill (which AR took note of here) requiring Rhode Island businesses to utilize the Feds “Basic Pilot Program” to determine if an employee can work in the U.S. legally is a good idea. In a hearing on it yesterday, Brien explained:

Brien said he is trying to reflect his constituents’ wishes to do something about illegal immigration “because the federal government is failing us.”

“I’m not a racist; I’m not a xenophobe,” said Brien. “I’m merely taking the wishes of the people of my district and trying to carry them forward.”

Brien said the Basic Pilot Program “is easy. It’s free — it doesn’t cost anything. It requires an Internet connection.” He said the verification cannot be used retroactively, and cannot be used during the hiring process to screen employees.

“Its goal is to ensure the work force is a legal work force, going forward. That’s it,” said Brien. “The point of the bill is that if you’re going to come to work in the state of Rhode Island, you must do so legally.”

The bill was also supported by WHJJ talk host Helen Glover:
“The federal government is dropping the ball here,” said Glover...“We are a land of laws and I am angered that we even have to go through this … At a time when there is a state budget deficit, we need to make sure there is employment for the people who are legally here.”
Not all agree, though. Here is a litany of their justifications for opposition:
Amy Vitale, program coordinator for the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the ACLU “strongly opposes this bill,” in part because of the reported inaccuracy of the government database upon which the program depends...

Rep. Joseph S. Almeida, D-Providence, said he feels that the bill, and others introduced this session on the illegal-immigration issue, “are anti-immigration bills” aimed at all immigrants, whether legal or illegal...

Rep. Grace Diaz, D-Providence, expressed her opposition, arguing that the mandate would place a financial burden on the small businesses she represents in the Washington Park and South Side areas...

Sen. Harold M. Metts, D-Providence, argued against the bill, saying that “anti-illegal” has come to mean “anti-immigration, period.”

...Sen. Juan Pichardo, D-Providence, called the bill on the Basic Pilot Program “part of a package of legislation that I believe is very divisive in our state and our community … people are getting angry to the point where they get to use the words ‘hate’ and ‘racist.’ ”

To sum up, while a few opponents believe Brien's bill is inconvenient, their real dislike is based on their conflation (purposeful or otherwise) of immigrant and "illegal immigrant." Added to that is their belief that a desire to uphold the law is really just closet racism. Well, they're wrong.

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Grace Diaz has submitted an opposing bill that would prohibit business owners in the state from writing in BASIC programming language while piloting a plane. It also has a supplemental provision which would prohibit the sale of cellophane to minors.

Posted by: Greg at March 15, 2007 10:08 AM

(Very good, Greg.)

They are dead wrong, Marc, on every point. Many of the people who spoke at the Committee hearing last night are members of RIILE (link below) and they proved Almeida, Metts and Pichardo wrong by the content and tone of their testimony.

It's interesting that up until very recently, as a way of promoting their cause, pro-illegal immigration advocates whined that we are all descended from immigrants. (I never quite understood that point, but in any case ...) Ever since we started agreeing with them that, yes, we are all descended from immigrants who came here legally (the absence of a process did not make their arrival illegal) to work, learn the language and make a home, advocates have stopped saying that and are now saying that undocumenteds "are human beings".

And here I was thinking they were Martians. Well, now that we got that straight, throw open the border. They found an argument we can't refute.

Posted by: SusanD at March 15, 2007 11:15 AM

The Swift meat packing plant, used the Basic Pilot Program,for all workers.

All you need is a Real name and Soc. Sec
number (cost $25-$50) and you beat the system

Posted by: steve at March 15, 2007 1:46 PM

The Swift meat packing plant, used the Basic Pilot Program,for all workers.

All you need is a Real name and Soc. Sec
number (cost $25-$50) and you beat the system

Posted by: steve l at March 15, 2007 1:48 PM

So....because the system can be beat we shouldn't bother making RI employers and illegal workers NOT adhere to it? That makes so much sense! I say we get rid of the income tax, too. That system gets beat all of the time! And speed limits...and littering laws...and.....

Posted by: Marc at March 15, 2007 5:03 PM

Yes, our verification and enforcement mechanisms are in a bit of a mess right now. All we can do is dive in and fix it as we go. But it will get dramatically worse if we don't try.

By your remark, steve, it sounds like you have no problem with illegal immigration. There are many things I want to ask that accrue to such a position. But I will limit myself to a big picture matter: why is it that every other country in the world is entitled to have and uphold their borders but the United States?

Posted by: SusanD at March 15, 2007 5:42 PM
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