Snowe Immigration Response Misses the Mark
May 16, 2006
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jean Hay Bright said Tuesday Sen. Olympia Snowe "missed the boat" in her response to President George Bush's Monday-night immigration speech.
"Sen. Snowe is in step with the President. She would have us believe that securing the borders is the way to fix this problem, when in fact this is a problem of American employers, not of foreign workers." Hay Bright said. "We already have laws on the books making it illegal for American employers to hire undocumented workers. The country simply needs to enforce those existing laws."
"Employers who hire undocumented workers break the law every day that they employ them. A national high-tech identity card for legal, documented workers, as the President proposes, does nothing to address the problem of employers who willfully ignore American labor and tax laws, or of an administration that willfully refuses to enforce existing law," Hay Bright said, adding "this is an especially serious problem in the hiring of temporary and day laborers."
Hay Bright also disputed Bush's contention that such a high-tech identity card cannot be forged, and said that rather than creating a entirely new ID bureaucracy, the existing Social Security system and the IRS are the key to a solution.
"What we need is a verification system similar to that of credit card companies, where Social Security numbers and IRS ID numbers for private contractors can be verified quickly and simply, by phone or over the Internet," the candidate said. "We need to remove the excuse that employers have no way of knowing if their new hires are legally able to work in this country."
Hay Bright said President Bush "insults the American workforce" with his continued insistence that American citizens and legal immigrants don't want the jobs taken by undocumented workers.
"We all know Americans would take those jobs if they paid a living wage. Make the federal minimum wage a living wage, and Americans and legal immigrant workers will gladly take those jobs," Hay Bright said. She noted that Sen. Snowe voted with her Republican peers last fall against raising the federal minimum wage above $5.15 an hour, at a time when Maine's minimum wage was already $6.50 an hour.
"Sen. Snowe's refusal to bring the minimum wage even close to being a living wage hurt workers all over this country, and hurt Maine small businesses whose competitors in other states are allowed to pay sub-poverty wages," Hay Bright said.
As to President Bush's plan to involve the National Guard in the immigration issue, Hay Bright said if Sen. Snowe really believes the National Guard is already stretched thin, there was a simple solution. "Bring them home from Iraq," Hay Bright said.
"Prior to the Iraq War, the National Guard was used primarily for stateside emergency purposes," Hay Bright said. "With repeated redeployments to Iraq, these units are already overstretched. And as the floods in York County demonstrate, they are needed here at home."
Hay Bright noted that when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the National Guard units from that area were serving in Iraq and were unavailable to help out. With global warming experts predicting more severe storms in the years ahead, the need for National Guard units in emergencies can be expected to increase, she said. Hay Bright said the President's willingness to repeatedly call up the National Guard for war-related and peripheral duties "will surely have a negative effect on Guard morale and recruitment."
Hay Bright's five-point immigration policy, which involves enforcement of employer labor laws, a minimum wage that is a living wage, national health care, a review and adjustment of immigration policies and procedures, and the withdrawal of the United States from damaging trade agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA and the WTO, is available on her campaign web site at http://www.jeanhaybright.us/immigration.html.