New Bill Aims to Tighten Borders; Lawmaker Targets Fraudulent Social Security Cards

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The Republican chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee has introduced sweeping new legislation that would enhance border security and implement new technology to make it more difficult to obtain and use fraudulent Social Security cards.

Drafted at the suggestion of a veteran Border Patrol agent, Rep. David Dreier of California said the Illegal Immigrant Enforcement and Social Security Protection Act of 2004 would increase the number of Border Patrol agents and add tough enforcement penalties to existing federal law that already bars U.S. businesses from hiring illegal aliens.

"We know why most people illegally cross our borders - the draw of our strong economy and the promise for a better life," Mr. Dreier said. "This legislation gets to the root of that problem by adding tougher enforcement penalties to current law ... and implementing new technology within the Social Security system that will make identity fraud far more difficult to perpetrate.

"The explosion in counterfeit identity documents and employers who are unable or unwilling to establish the authenticity of documents presented by job applicants severely undermines our national security," he said.

The proposed bill has the support of Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Texas Democrat, who formerly was the chief of the Border Patrol's El Paso and McAllen, Texas, sectors and T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, whom Mr. Dreier said suggested the enhancement of identification technology for Social Security cards.

Mr. Dreier has referred to the bill as the "Bonner Plan," describing it as "a critical step in bringing much-needed security measures to the process of hiring new workers."

The 12-term congressman has been targeted in recent weeks by talk-show hosts over his voting record on immigration. Last week, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside his California office as the hosts of a Los Angeles talk show criticized him for being weak on illegal immigration. …