CongressHouse FloorSenate Floor • U.S. Capitol: 202-224-3121

June 9, 2007

Immigration: Follow the Money

Congressional Record
United States Senate
June 7, 2007

Sen. Claire McCaskill [D-MO]: Mr. President, I rise to talk about the issue of illegal immigration in this country in a very simple way. As a prosecutor, it is about following the law. As an auditor, it is about following the money. I state for my colleagues today that so much of this problem is about following the money.

We have crimes we can deter in this country and we have crimes we cannot deter. Let me tell my colleagues a crime we can deter. We can stop the hiring of illegal immigrants in this country if we prosecute the people who are hiring them because other business owners will stop hiring illegal immigrants if they see businesses being held accountable. This administration has not been interested in enforcing the law against employers.

What is hard to deter is families who are trying to feed their children. And the wall, yes, I support border enforcement. Of course. As a former law enforcement official, I support enforcing the law against anyone who breaks the law. But let's be realistic about this. As an auditor, I want to be efficient and effective.

Is it going to be efficient and effective to think we are going to solve this problem at the border? It is not the border that is going to stop the people coming into our country illegally. It is what is on the other side of the border. It is the promise of that job and the hungry mouths they are trying to feed.

So when I look at the raid that occurred in Springfield, MO, a few weeks ago when over 100 illegal immigrants were arrested, I kept watching the news for some word about that employer. Silence. With all the raids that have been occurring recently, I think, because of the administration's anxiousness to try to get this bill across the line, I have yet to hear one word about an employer going to jail for hiring illegal immigrants.

I know, I know, they are going to say the employer down near Springfield at the chicken processing plant--these people had fake IDs. They had fake Social Security numbers. If anyone believes that employer did not know they had illegal immigrants working there, I have a bridge I want to sell you. Of course, they knew. You give a good prosecutor a couple of investigators, you send some people in undercover, and you will gather the evidence in short order that dozens and hundreds and thousands of employers in this country are not playing by the rules.

Is that fair? No, it is not fair, and I will tell you to whom it is not fair. Many of my colleagues have said it is not fair to the American worker. I will tell you to whom it is not fair. It is unfair to the businesses that are playing by the rules. It is fundamentally unfair that many businesses in America are requiring the kind of documentation that assures them they are they are following OSHA standards, they are withholding for taxes, they are doing all the things they must do, while other employers are paying cash under the table to pad the bottom line. Follow the money, Mr. President.

Employers right now under the current law can serve up to 6 months in prison. If we would do some of those prosecutions in this country, it would do more to shut the flow of illegal immigrants, frankly, than all the legislation we could ever pass in this Chamber because it would send the message to American employers that they are not going to be rewarded with more profits by breaking the rules.

There are so many people behind this bill who have hearts that are full of compassion, and I certainly, Mr. President, think of you and your family as I make difficult decisions on this bill. But I have to tell you, there are lots of people behind this bill for whom it is all about the money. It is all about the profit.

If we want to stop illegal immigration in this country, we have to get serious about the magnet that is drawing it to our country, and that is we look the other way when people hire illegal immigrants. Until we stop looking the other way from those businesses that are not playing by the rules, we will never effectively deal with immigration in this country.

I have an amendment that would also bar for a minimum of five years any company that is found to hire illegal immigrants from participating in Federal contracts. I hope that will become part of this legislation.

Mr. President, I know there have been enforcement measures added to this bill that would increase the fines and jail time for employers who repeatedly, willfully hire illegal immigrants. But, frankly, 6 months is plenty if this Administration would only enforce current law. If you put an owner of a business in jail for 6 months in a Federal penitentiary for hiring illegal immigrants and let that word go out across America, you will do more to clean up this problem without spending another dime of the taxpayers' money than anything else we can do.

If this President is serious about illegal immigration in this country, I suggest he call his Attorney General and he say to his Attorney General--we know they have been given instructions; we have heard about it in the Judiciary Committee--tell this Attorney General that we want employers who are hiring illegal immigrants by the hundreds in this country to be prosecuted under the law and to spend some time in jail. That would get to the bottom of the problem.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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