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Kingston's immigration amendment fails
Jack Kingston 8 05
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston
While members of the U.S. Senate were busy blocking an immigration bill backed by President Bush this week, an immigration amendment proposed in the House by local U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) also felt the sting of defeat.
The representative offered an amendment Tuesday to the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that would prohibit funds in the bill from being used to enter into contracts with entities not participating in the Basic Pilot Program.
“The American people have sent a clear signal to Congress that they want immigration reform in steps, not comprehensive reform. My amendment is one of those steps,” Kingston argued on the House floor. “There have been cases that include defense contractors who have been caught with illegal immigrants working at a shipyard in Mississippi, a military base in Georgia, and a contractor who employed illegal aliens to help build a portion of the U.S./Mexico border fence meant to keep illegal aliens out of this country. My amendment is a common sense solution to this problem.”
The Basic Pilot Program, now referred to as the "Employment Eligibility Verification Program," was a provision instituted in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. It allows employers, through Social Security Department and Department of Homeland Security databases, to verify information provided by new employees on the I-9 form stating they are eligible to work in the United States.
Employers are required to sign a Memorandum of Understanding before registering for the program, but participation is voluntary.
Georgia, with an undocumented immigrant population approaching 500,000, has one of the country's fastest growing illegal immigrant populations in the country. More than 500 employers in the state at nearly 4,000 work sites have signed up to use the verification program.
According to Kingston, half of the employers nationwide who participate in the program have called it "an excellent, good to very good program" and 98 percent said they are likely to continue using the service.
Despite these arguments, however, the congressman's proposal was defeated when Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.) raised a point of order against the amendment.
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