Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A new entitlement for illegals

Never say Ken Boehm didn't warn you.

He's not a kook or an alarmist and he doesn't hear voices, strange eerie ones, in his head. He understands all too well what can happen and how if the public has been lulled into a false sense of security -- especially when the issue is illegal immigration.

As absurd as this story line surely must seem to rational people, Mr. Boehm worries that someday taxpayers actually could be forced to pay for lawyers representing illegal aliens in the U.S. who want amnesty and citizenship.

Boehm is co-founder and chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a Virginia nonpartisan foundation promoting ethics in public life. He also is not delusional.
No one need be a visionary to picture a day so surreal when taxpayers pay for legal representation for illegals. It almost happened a few months ago and it could happen before you know it if opponents of illegal immigration are not vigilant once Congress (with all those new members, mostly Democrats) convenes in January.

"Once again, the government was requiring taxpayers to pay for something not in the best interest of taxpayers," Boehm says about this year's U.S. Senate immigration bill. "In effect, it's an entitlement program for criminals."

The controversial 614-page immigration "reform" legislation passed by the Senate in May would have done so much more damage than just giving amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. In the AgJOBS amendment, illegal aliens seeking amnesty could get "free" legal counseling paid by American taxpayers. The bill also required the alien to have an attorney file the application for him.

The amendment said that recipients of funds under the Legal Services Corporation Act "shall not be prevented" from providing legal assistance directly related to an application for adjustment of status under this section -- Washington-speak for illegals wanting to be legals.

The federally funded Legal Services Corporation, which pays for 138 legal aid programs and has 700 offices nationwide -- supposedly to help poor Americans gain equal access to the judicial system -- currently is prohibited from giving legal aid to illegals. Since 1974, LSC has received about $6 billion, according to Boehm.

So, if the Senate immigration bill had become law, aliens who illegally sneaked into America would have been rewarded with free legal assistance and a path to citizenship, paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

But since the Senate and House could not reconcile their differences -- the House version actually would have protected the border with Mexico and did not offer amnesty -- why is Boehm sending newspapers commentaries and raising the issue on talk radio? After all, the good guys won the battle when the House essentially killed the Senate's illegal alien appeasement bill.

"Come January, the House, which had opposed the law, will be under new management," he says. "There's a very good chance the House will pass something similar to the Senate bill and there's a good chance that the president will sign it."

Can Americans stop this looming threat?

"This is the time to let elected officials know they (Americans) are opposed to paying for free lawyers for those who are here illegally," Boehm says.

Consider yourself warned.