In his opening statement before Wednesday’s immigration hearing, House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte said the Senate “Gang of Eight” immigration bill will not stop future waves of illegal immigration.
“The drafters of S.744 promise to ‘ensure that this is a successful permanent reform to our immigration system that will not need to be revisited,'” Goodlatte said. “The drafters seek an end to the problem of illegal immigration for once and for all. While this is a laudable and necessary goal, their bill falls far short of achieving it.”
“In order to effectively deal with the problem of illegal immigration and ensure that future generations do not have to deal with legalizing millions more people, we need to take a look at our past mistakes,” Goodlatte added. “We need to ensure that we do not repeat them.”
Goodlatte points to the amnesty that passed during President Ronald Reagan’s administration in 1986 as an example of a mistake that must not be repeated when attempting to achieve real immigration reform.
Goodlatte said the bill Reagan signed into law in November 1986 “provided for three main reforms: legalizing the millions of immigrants already in the country, increasing border enforcement, and instituting penalties for employers who hired unauthorized workers in order to stop the flow of new unlawful immigrants.” He said, “These reforms were based on the realization that if Congress simply passed a legalization program, we would simply be encouraging future illegal immigration.”
“The Select Commission on Immigration had warned just a few years earlier that ‘without more effective enforcement, legalization could serve as a stimulus to further illegal entry,'” Goodlatte continued. “Unfortunately, IRCA’s enforcement measures never materialized and the Commission’s fears were realized.”
Goodlatte noted too that over the next several years border security “barely improved.”
“Employer penalties weren’t enforced,” Goodlatte said. “Now, 26 years later, all of us who want to fix our broken immigration system are haunted by the legacy of IRCA’s failure. And we have serious concerns that S. 744 repeats IRCA’s mistakes.”