Rich Tucker

The former police chief of Washington D.C. once wrote a memo explaining, “Officers are strictly prohibited from making inquiries into citizenship or residency status for the purpose of determining whether an individual has violated the civil immigration laws or for the purpose of enforcing those laws.” And there are dozens of other “sanctuary cities” where local authorities have promised to ignore federal orders to crack down on illegal aliens.

The fact is we just aren’t serious about attacking this problem. Last year, President Bush said it was time to change that. “In Washington, the debate over immigration reform has reached a time of decision,” he announced. And the Senate did pass a bill last year that would have provided amnesty to most of the illegals who are already in the U.S.

Luckily, members of the House opposed that idea so strongly the bill died. But now, under new leadership, the Senate is poised to again float its amnesty bill. Senators may vote as soon as next week.

They should say “no” to amnesty. A country simply can’t reward people who’ve been breaking its laws. We tried that in 1986, granting temporary resident status to anyone who’d been here for five years. But that law didn’t slow the flow of illegals then, and amnesty won’t work today either.

Instead, lawmakers should focus their efforts on stopping the flow of new illegals. This actually wouldn’t be that difficult. As my correspondent notes, his area had zero crossings when the National Guard was on duty. But once its patrols were eased back, “crossings returned to their usual ferociously out-of-control level.” We need to put guards along the border to discourage illegals. At the same time, we need to crack down on the people who hire illegal aliens.

This, also, can be done. After all, relatively few professions are open to illegals. They mostly work in food (serving it and picking it), janitorial services, construction and low-skill manufacturing. The federal government should make it easier for employers to verify that an employee’s here legally, and it should crack down on the businesses that employ illegals.

This isn’t rocket science. Our leaders have been talking about how to fix illegal immigration for years. Now, it’s time to actually do something. Let’s solve this problem, so we can get back to ignoring Social Security.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for