By DIANA NGUYEN
WASHINGTON (Jan. 22, 2010) - Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Stevensville, joined 21 other congressmen Thursday in calling on Congress to reject amnesty for illegal immigrants and enforce employment restrictions on non-citizens.
The Bipartisan Reform of Immigration through Defining Good Enforcement Resolution, HR 1026, or BRIDGE resolution, outlines the key principles of immigration reform, Kratovil and his colleagues said.
Kratovil joined Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah., Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Glenn Nye, D-Va., and 10 other Republican and eight other Democratic co-sponsors in introducing the legislation.
"Marylanders, including immigrants who have come here legally to live and work in our state, are tired of the drain that illegal immigration has put on our economy," Kratovil said through his communications director. "This resolution reflects my belief that we should honor the contributions of those who have come here legally and continue to play by the rules while punishing those that knowingly break our laws."
The resolution calls for all employers to adopt E-Verify, a federally operated, Internet-based program that confirms the status of workers.
To date, Anne Arundel County is the only Maryland jurisdiction using the controversial E-Verify program, however, in February, Frederick County commissioners will decide whether to adopt the program.
Frederick County is also the only Maryland jurisdiction to participate in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287(g) program, which allows local police to question suspects about their immigration status and release them to federal agents for deportation.
Ajmel Quereshi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland Immigrants Rights Project, said the ACLU has been opposed to the E-Verify system for years.
"There is a high rate of errors," Quereshi said. "Vast numbers relate to U.S. citizens, documented immigrants and people here lawfully allowed to work."
The Social Security Administration reviewed E-Verify, finding: "approximately 17.8 million of its files contain erroneous data, 12.7 million of which concern U.S. citizens," said Quereshi, who also brought these results before a Senate committee reviewing the program in March 2009.
The resolution also asked Congress to provide resources for adequate security and control along the U.S. borders and to reject amnesty or legal status of those breaking the law.
"Immigrants are welcome to our country, but through the front door not the back," said Chuck Floyd, one of the founders of Help Save Maryland, a grassroots organization opposed to illegal immigration. "I support our existing laws and the American workers."
Floyd said this legislation will help Marylanders by balancing the budget and providing jobs for legal Americans and Maryland citizens.
"I think Marylanders will appreciate the fact that we are encouraging the enforcement of immigration laws that are already on the books," Kratovil said.
Maryland ranks 13th highest in the nation in immigration, according to the Census Bureau. Since the 2000 census, 60 percent of the state's immigrants moved to Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Baltimore County ranks third with an immigrant population of 14.2 percent.
Nearly four of 10 immigrants in Maryland are of Latin origin, reported the Maryland Department of Planning. Asians make up 29 percent of the immigrant population, and about 22 percent of immigrants came from Africa.
Capital News Service contributed to this report.