Debra J. Saunders

 A bill passed by the House would make it a felony for illegal immigrants to stay in the United States. Jeff Lungren of the House Judiciary Committee explained that, while it is a crime to cross the border illegally, staying here after sneaking in or after your visa expires has been only a civil offense. The House wanted to make it an actual crime.

 When members of Congress complained that a felony was too harsh, House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner put forward an amendment in December to reduce the proposed penalty to a misdemeanor.
 
This shows what a setup the felony issue was: Only eight Dems voted to reduce the penalty, and the amendment failed by a 257-164 vote. U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., announced that she opposed the misdemeanor amendment because: "In one stroke, it would subject the entire undocumented population, estimated by some to be 11 million people, to criminal liability." So the Dems stuck with the felony language.

 Rohrabacher stresses that 90 percent of illegal immigrants -- if not more -- are "wonderful human beings." He notes that no one expects the government to deport all 11 million or 12 million illegal immigrants in America.

 The answer is for Washington to toughen enforcement, penalize employers who hired undocumented workers and make border crossing more costly. Then fewer people will move illegally to America.

 Instead, on Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill with a guest-worker program that would allow illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship. Big mistake. If Washington passes an immigration bill that grants citizenship to illegal immigrants and includes a phony temporary guest-worker program -- phony, because there is no way the government can or would remove workers after six years, as one scheme promises -- then the deception will be official. The message Washington will send will resound louder than ever: Forget immigration laws. Legal, illegal, no dif.


Debra J. Saunders


 
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Debra Saunders' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.