INDIANAPOLIS ­ Indiana House Democratic Leader B. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend) issued the following statement on the Indiana House Republican plan to handle illegal immigration:

“The position taken by Indiana House Democrats on this issue is very clear: we are against people who come to this country illegally and against the companies that hire them illegally.

“Illegal immigration in the United States remains a national issue of concern, primarily because of the Bush Administration’s inability to enforce the laws that we already have on the books. I found it interesting that one of the House Republican points today urged the federal government to take action against illegal immigration. Who has been in charge of border security for the past six years and Congress for the last 12 years? Republicans.

“Today’s proposal mirrors the House Republican ‘immigration reform’ plan from earlier this session (House Bill 1383), a plan so onerous that more House Republicans voted against the legislation than supported it. Among those who spoke against the bill was State Rep. Mike Murphy, an Indianapolis Republican and chairman of the Marion County Republican Party, who spoke eloquently about his Irish heritage.

“State and federal laws already prohibit most illegal immigrants from obtaining public assistance. House Bill 1383 would have denied health care services to children, hindered the ability of the state and counties to track and treat communicable diseases, and strained law enforcement resources.

“However, in its original form, the bill didn’t do a single thing to penalize those companies that choose to make huge profits by employing illegal immigrants. It wasn’t until State Rep. John Aguilera (D-East Chicago) offered an amendment to the legislation ­ an amendment that passed with bipartisan support ­ that this issue was even addressed. I notice today’s announcement said nothing about penalizing these companies.

“I do not understand why some advocates on this issue continually place the sole responsibility for the problem of illegal immigration in this country at the feet of the immigrants, and choose to remain silent on the active efforts of companies to bring these people into the country, solely to increase their own profits, and the failure of the U.S. government to enforce laws on the books.

“The President and his Republican House are debating the immigration issue, and they are on different sides. The governor and his Republican House are debating the immigration issue, and they are on different sides.

“When House Democrats get back in control, we will act decisively to enforce the law and make sure everyone obeys the law, including the businesses that are getting rich illegally.”