Democrat Heath Shuler Keeps His Promise; SAVE Act Reintroduced

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

May 31, 2011
During my recent trip to Washington D.C., I attended a speech delivered by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.). Shuler, who has been in the House of Representatives since 2007, is a moderate on many social issues and a whip in the Blue Dog coalition. On immigration, Shuler is one of our most formidable allies. Shuler spoke at length about his commitment to enforcing immigration laws and promised that he would, for the third consecutive Congress, soon reintroduce the SAVE Act. Late last week, Shuler made good on his D.C. promise when he put forward his legislation that would mandate E-Verify nationwide, strengthen border security and improve interior enforcement. The SAVE Act would be a shot in the arm for unemployed Americans especially those who may have been displaced by an illegal alien. Specifically, the SAVE Act requires that:
  1. Within four years of enactment, all employers must confirm through the E-Verify program the employment eligibility including immigration status for all hires.
  2. Federal agencies, federal contractors and subcontractors and large employers with more than 250 employees must verify new hires within one year of enactment; employers with 100 or more employees must verify new hires within two years; employers with 30 or more, within three years.
  3. All employers run their current employees through the E-Verify system. This represents a major advance in identifying illegal aliens.
  4. The Commissioner of Social Security must notify each individual if earnings from two or more employers are being reported under that person's Social Security number.
Perhaps most importantly to identity theft victims, Shuler’s national SAVE Act has what it refers to as a "multiple-workplace notification system" that will advise Americans workers when their identities have been stolen and used by illegal aliens for employment purposes. Shuler’s bill also protects employers from federal sanctions under the condition that they use E-verify in good faith. The SAVE Act is as strong on bolstering the border as it is on employment verification. Broadly, the SAVE Act calls for a national strategy to secure the border and all U.S. ports of entry. Among its other provisions, the SAVE Act requires that:
  1. At least 350 new ICE hires must be assigned to specifically investigate alien smuggling.
  2. The federal government approve a 50 percent funding increase over the FY07 budget to be allocated to increasing personnel, improving communication, upgrading technology, and allocating reward money.
  3. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense establish a program to recruit former members of the Armed Services and National Guard to join the Border Protection Service. It recommends a $20,000 ($80,000 throughout employment) student loan repayment incentive and relocation/retention bonuses.
  4. Border state Governors declare a border emergency and request up to 1000 additional border agents.
  5. The number of power boats and helicopters be increased and assign at least one police-type vehicle for every four border agents. All vehicles must be equipped with safety glass, global positioning, and other protections.
  6. A virtual fence will be created along the border that’s comprised of UAVs, drones, cameras, poles, sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and other equipment.
  7. Penalties against alien smugglers including are strengthened with imprisonment sentences ranging from one to 30 years.
  8. An additional 1,150 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are added to staff as well as 140 more Criminal Alien Program (CAP) officers to identify and remove criminal aliens in federal, state, and local detention facilities and provides 8,000 additional beds for holding illegal aliens and requires at least 500 beds in a family detention facility.
  9. Border states appoint 13 additional federal district judges to expedite the removal process for illegal aliens: 4 for Arizona, 5 for Southern California, 1 for New Mexico, 2 for southern Texas, and 1 for West Texas.
Through Friday, May 27, the SAVE Act had 37 cosponsors from both political parties.
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