The number one incentive for illegal immigration is illegal employment. That’s why the time has come for the Bush administration to utilize every means necessary to crack down on employers who knowingly hire and exploit illegal immigrants. Ultimately, the devil is in the details, but if the administration follows through with the promises they are making today, we can demonstrate to the American people that we are finally getting serious about addressing illegal immigration.

While the new focus is on enforcement, it’s equally important that Congress work to pass legislation that will provide employers with the tools they need to verify the eligibility of the workers they hire. As we send a message to employers that illegal immigrants will no longer be allowed to work in this country in violation of law, we must also fulfill our obligations to work with employers to ensure they have the infrastructure they need to comply with the laws we enforce.

I think what the Bush Administration learned during the Senate amnesty debate was that you can’t begin an effort to address illegal immigration by first saying you’re going to give 12-20 million illegals amnesty. Our current situation has been 20 years in the making. One of the messages that we need to send is that there is no excuse for not enforcing the law.

People are here working illegally because they're being paid for it. We’ve institutionalized illegal labor and we will never successfully stem the tide of illegal immigration until we’ve eliminated the employment incentives.

Rep. Bilbray serves as Chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus.