No match, no papers, no problem

It is said politics makes strange bedfellows. In this case, let’s call it bizarre bedfellows. There are few issues on which I normally agree with Colorado conservative Rep. Tom Tancredo. But when it comes to illegal immigration, we’re somewhat in sync.

Tancredo’s one-issue presidential campaign is aimed at boosting visibility for a no-tolerance approach to illegal immigration. He is introducing legislation to overturn last week’s zany federal court ruling that bars the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from sending out “no-match” letters to potential companies that hire illegal immigrants.

The letters were supposed to be sent to employers who hire workers with fake or incorrect Social Security numbers. DHS had almost 9 million of those letters ready to go prior to the preliminary injunction. The effort was to be one prong of the Bush administration’s first serious attempt to control the nation’s borders — an effort which to this point has been feckless at best.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said the plan, “would result in irreparable harm to innocent workers and employers.” He based his ruling on the claim that enforcement of the law would place a financial burden on employers and lead to legal workers being fired because of errors.

Immigrant and employee rights advocates — pushing for a pathway to citizenship for the United States’ estimated 12 million illegals (in fact, the Center for Immigration Studies claims the number is more like 20 million) — hailed Judge Breyer’s ruling as a triumph.

There is nothing more ridiculous than a hands-in-the-air, “we can’t do anything—they’re here” approach to illegal immigration. Even Mexico, which frequently complains about U.S. efforts to enforce our borders, does a better job of enforcing Mexican borders than we do. Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, reported in August, “Mexico has begun the repatriation of some 7,000 Central American undocumented immigrants, mostly to Honduras and Guatemala, local newspaper Sol de Mexico quoted government officials as saying…”

We could do a much better job of evicting those who are here illegally.

And we certainly can start by eliminating the candy in the window that lures illegals here in the first place.

For example, there are 10 states that do not require proof of lawful presence (in the state) before issuing a driver’s license, including Maryland, Montana and Oregon. New York’s Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer who rode into office on a tsunami of public support, is watching his poll numbers sink precipitously as he tangles with the state legislature over his plan to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. He should have learned from the experience of California Gov. Gray Davis, who was unceremoniously booted out of the governor’s mansion after signing a law to give illegal immigrants driver’s licenses. Driver’s licenses line the path to gainful employment, finding a place to live and so on. It’s a hand-out that should not be given away to law breakers.

Speaking of counter-productive incentives, some states grant in-state college tuition rates to illegal immigrants. All the children of illegal immigrants have access to free public education. Federal law requires hospitals to give costly emergency care free to illegal immigrants, so that many emergency rooms have closed down in recent years, unable to break even.

Let me restate as I always do when I tackle this most touchy of issues:

Immigrants are good people. Most of them work hard and merely want economic opportunity for themselves and their families. It is mass immigration that is bad, because it is boosting U.S. population to the point where we’re degrading the environment and the quality of life for native-born Americans, legal immigrants and their families.

That’s why I find myself in the odd position of agreeing with Rep. Tancredo that the “no match” law ought to be placed back into effect and thoroughly enforced. The more benefits we give away, the more illegal immigrants we attract. The more we pretend we can’t enforce our own laws or protect our own borders, the more we as a nation look like fools.

(Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and columnist. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)


  1. lexiedogmom

    Lexie Homewood
    If the “no match” law had a built in right of appeal for those who were wrongly singled out it could be enforced without as much fear of doing an injustice to those who are here and working legally. Someone wrongly named should not have much trouble proving it.

  2. kiki

    “Immigrants are good people.Most of them work hard and merely want economic opportunity for themselves and their families.”

    Bonnie Erbe just refuted the point she was trying to make with the above sentences. And exactly how does she propose to differentiate between “good immigrants” and bad ones? Are the “good” ones those who can speak English? (extra points for no discernable accent) Maybe they are the ones who look like “us”.

    Ms. Erbe’s piece is an utter load of bovine residue.

  3. jarrodlombardo

    It’d be nice if a federal court would rule or the Congress would clearly legislate we go back to the original intent and meaning of the 14th amendment’s citizenship clause:
    “So what was to be the premise behind America’s first and only constitutional birthright declaration in the year 1866? Simply all children born to parents who owed no foreign allegiance were to be citizens of the United States.”

    The problem of illegal immigrants from Mexico, at least, would be vastly decreased.

  4. elgee

    Sometimes I think we “North” Americans forget that California, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Texas were ALL ONCE A PART OF MEXICO! We went to war with Mexico – our guns were better and we had more bullets, so we just “took” a part of Mexico from the Mexicans!

    If our current Administration wasn’t so focued on killing hundreds of thousands of citizens of the Middle East, we would have enough money to “lend” to Mexico – for the sole purpose of supporting more businesses IN Mexico – that paid decent wages. Mexicans don’t prefer to come North – it’s a matter of they and their families surviving! elgee

  5. SEAL

    Kiki: that sentence you’re so upset about is only Erbe’s clarifying that she is not speaking from prejudice or any personal animosity. It is quite appropriate for her to make that point because of how sensitive the hispanics are and how quick they are to claim anything that does not support them comes from ethnic prejudice. Most of the hispanic citizens of this country think their brethern from across the border should be excused for breaking the law. That is prejudice.

    That one sentence puts her article in the right perspective. The illegals are not bad people, they only come here because of the opportunity to earn a decent living and have a better quality of life for their families. She isn’t blaming them for crossing, she blames our lack of effort to enforce the law and, while she doesn’t say it outright, the greed of so many employers.

    I agree with every word she wrote. Regardless of how we got to this point with the illegal immigration and regardless of anyones feelings or wishes, we have to fix the problem. Erbe outlines exactly how to do that. Remove the condition that motivates them to come across the border illegaly. Force employers to fire the illegals currently on their payrolls.

    We cannot set a precedent of amnesty for lawbreakers. Especially lawbreakers who aren’t even citizens of our country. We cannot continue to do nothing to prevent illegal immigration. It isn’t about preventing Mexicans from having a better life. It’s about preserving our own nation and people doing what is right. America is a nation of laws wherein lawbreakers are punished, not excused or rewarded.

    If Mexicans want to come here and work, there is a legal process for them to do that. If they want to stay they can apply for citizenship. What they cannot do is ignore our laws. And the employers on our side of the border cannot be allowed to ignore the law, either. Their “I don’t give a damn whether they are legal or not” attitude must not be tolerated. They must be held accoutable by requiring them to verify their employees.

    I always checked out the information of my employees applications and required references. I also ran them through NCIC. I didn’t want someone working for me that had warrants out for his arrest or had a criminal record that might make him a danger to my other employees or my business. That is standard procedure for any employer if he cares about his business. What is wrong with asking “those” employers to do that?

  6. kiki

    Seal, I understand Erbe’s “disclaimer”. I also usually enjoy (and agree with) your intelligent posts. I’ll admit, I’m torn on this issue, but wholesale firings and deportations won’t work. For a starter, enforcement would be a bureaucratic and economic nightmare. We check less than one percent of air cargo. We can’t even muster up enough enforcement to keep our food supply safe. How in the world could we even begin to undertake a huge mission like this?

    I think that’s the reason some are calling for amnesty for those that are already here. Start from “this point” and enforce from it. Implement some sort of streamlined process to citizenship-it takes too long. Forget about collecting back taxes or fines from these folks, but expect a tax return from them from this year forward.

    As for your statement that “we cannot set a precedent of amnesty for lawbreakers”, I’ve got two words for you.

  7. pondering_it_all

    Even if the program had not been halted because of the “false mismatch” problem, it would have made little difference: I received an explanation from The Farm Bureau of the procedure we would have to follow under the new regulations, and I was shocked. I could hire an illegal and the entire process of checking his Social Security number, getting back a mismatch notice, asking him to submit the correct number, and finally having to fire him could be stretched out for MONTHS!

    This whole process has been designed ON PURPOSE so that farms, packing plants, sweat shops, etc. can hire illegals for short term employment without fear of any punishment. Calling it “vigerous enorcement” IS A SCAM!

  8. SEAL

    As for your statement that “we cannot set a precedent of amnesty for lawbreakers”, I’ve got two words for you. – SCOOTER LIBBY

    Thanks, That made me laugh. But notice I said “we” (the nation) and not Bush. Besides, he likes to cut brush – that means he likes to ride the tractor that cuts the brush on the land around his house.

    What is proposed is not intended to be a quick fix. It is a freeze out intended to slowly force the illegals living here (some for many years) to have to return home because they can’t work enough to support themselves and their families.

    When Illegals are told their information is bad and has been reported, they don’t stick around to challenge that for fear the immigration cops will be notified and come looking for them. They will disappear and look for another job someplace else. After that happens over and over they get broke and frustrated and go home. As the word gets back to Mexico the border crossings will slowly decrease until there are very few.

    There is no reason why the IRS could not set up a automated computer check where employers could simply enter the name and number of an applicant and recieve a reply within minutes telling them whether or not the info is valid. No matter how good a phony SS card is it won’t fly with the IRS. A “Invalid -no match” response is all that would be needed to weed out the illegals.

    It will take 3-5 years for this program to solve the problem but the beauty of it is it costs the taxpayer almost nothing and eliminates the alternative of large numbers of immigration officials running around trying to catch illegals and creating a lot of ill will. This is a quiet simple way to solve the problem.

  9. kiki

    Seal, glad I made ya laugh! 😉

    Your explanation makes sense to me-thanks. But what would keep employers from paying them cash under the table and just starting an underground economy? The employers pretty much hired them with impunity, why would they stop now?

  10. SEAL

    No payroll to bring in the farm crop will look a little odd don’t ya think? That is where most of them are employed

    In most businesses it would cost more to pay under the table due to the lack of business “overhead.”

    The IRS isn’t stupid. Reports have to make sense.