EDITORIAL: Stop scapegoating immigrants!

The Republican leaders in Congress and the Bush administration continue trying to score points in an election year by using undocumented immigrants as scapegoats for their owned failed policies.

The GOP House leadership, abetted by a few Democrats, is pushing the viciously anti-immigrant HR 4088, the SAVE Act. They are trying to get enough signatures on a “discharge petition” so that this ill-considered legislation can skip committee hearings and be voted on directly on the House floor.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that he is going ahead with plans to use the records of the Social Security Administration as an immigration enforcement tool. He intends to require employers to fire all employees who cannot clear up discrepancies involving their Social Security numbers within 90 days.

Chertoff’s announcement came as a federal judge was getting ready to hear arguments in a suit brought by the AFL-CIO, the ACLU and others aimed at stopping the Chertoff plan. They say such a use of Social Security files is not authorized by law and will do irreparable harm to millions.

The SAVE Act and the Chertoff policy will cost the jobs of not only countless immigrant workers, but also the huge numbers of U.S. citizens who, it is already recognized, have errors in their Social Security files.

Neither the GOP congressional leadership nor Chertoff or Bush plan to add a single government worker to deal with the vast extra burden that their policies would put on the Social Security system. Could it be that the inevitable chaos will be used to “prove” that it is necessary to privatize Social Security?

The federal judge should rule in favor of the AFL-CIO suit, and the American public should contact their elected representatives and demand that they reject the SAVE Act and the 1,600-plus anti-immigrant bills that have been introduced at state and local levels. Then we need to fight for real immigration reform, based on the legalization of all undocumented workers, and oust this vicious and irresponsible GOP crowd from power in November.