Brien’s Bill A No-Brainer
Woonsocket Rep. Jon Brien’s bill (which AR took note of here) requiring Rhode Island businesses to utilize the Feds “Basic Pilot Program” to determine if an employee can work in the U.S. legally is a good idea. In a hearing on it yesterday, Brien explained:
Brien said he is trying to reflect his constituents’ wishes to do something about illegal immigration “because the federal government is failing us.”
“I’m not a racist; I’m not a xenophobe,” said Brien. “I’m merely taking the wishes of the people of my district and trying to carry them forward.”
Brien said the Basic Pilot Program “is easy. It’s free — it doesn’t cost anything. It requires an Internet connection.” He said the verification cannot be used retroactively, and cannot be used during the hiring process to screen employees.
“Its goal is to ensure the work force is a legal work force, going forward. That’s it,” said Brien. “The point of the bill is that if you’re going to come to work in the state of Rhode Island, you must do so legally.”
The bill was also supported by WHJJ talk host Helen Glover:
“The federal government is dropping the ball here,” said Glover…“We are a land of laws and I am angered that we even have to go through this … At a time when there is a state budget deficit, we need to make sure there is employment for the people who are legally here.”
Not all agree, though. Here is a litany of their justifications for opposition:
Amy Vitale, program coordinator for the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the ACLU “strongly opposes this bill,” in part because of the reported inaccuracy of the government database upon which the program depends…
Rep. Joseph S. Almeida, D-Providence, said he feels that the bill, and others introduced this session on the illegal-immigration issue, “are anti-immigration bills” aimed at all immigrants, whether legal or illegal…
Rep. Grace Diaz, D-Providence, expressed her opposition, arguing that the mandate would place a financial burden on the small businesses she represents in the Washington Park and South Side areas…
Sen. Harold M. Metts, D-Providence, argued against the bill, saying that “anti-illegal” has come to mean “anti-immigration, period.”
…Sen. Juan Pichardo, D-Providence, called the bill on the Basic Pilot Program “part of a package of legislation that I believe is very divisive in our state and our community … people are getting angry to the point where they get to use the words ‘hate’ and ‘racist.’ ”
To sum up, while a few opponents believe Brien’s bill is inconvenient, their real dislike is based on their conflation (purposeful or otherwise) of immigrant and “illegal immigrant.” Added to that is their belief that a desire to uphold the law is really just closet racism. Well, they’re wrong.