Jim Gilchrist (Courtesy Orange County Register)

Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist says he does not support a compromise immigration proposal by Rep Mike Pence, R-Ind., despite the congressman’s claim to the contrary.

Pence told a Republican Study Group mini-retreat Monday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., that Gilchrist backs his plan to form worker-placement centers outside the U.S.

But Gilchrist clarified to WorldNetDaily his remarks to Pence.

“I congratulated Congressman Pence on putting forth alternatives, “Gilchrist explained, “but that does not mean I think the alternatives Congressman Pence proposed are the solution. Quite frankly, I don’t.”

Gilchrist said the “only solution that has any chance of work is for us to close the borders first, before we start talking about any kind of a guest worker program.”

He believes the bill by Rep. James Sensenbrenner that passed the House (HR 4437) is the only solution, not the Kennedy-McCain bill passed by the Senate (S. 2163) or the Pence compromise.

Pence has proposed creating private worker-placement agencies outside the U.S., “Ellis Island Centers,” that would be licensed by the federal government to match foreign workers with jobs that U.S. employers cannot fill with domestic workers.

Illegal immigrants would first have to leave the U.S. and then re-enter, only after they had received a guest-worker permit from one of the “Ellis Island Centers” established to screen them for re-entry.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.

WND pressed Gilchrist on whether he thought there was any merit to this idea.

“These placement centers are simply impractical,” Gilchrist replied. “It’s going to be like showing up to get a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. Before you know it, every one of the probably 30 million illegal aliens in the U.S. already will claim to have been at one of Pence’s centers to get a pass. How are you going to stop the black market in fraudulent documents from forging these passes?”

Gilchrist especially was pessimistic about the idea that Pence’s guest-worker suggestion would be enforced.

“What is Congressman Pence going to do if the illegal immigrants just refuse to leave the U.S. to go to one of his centers?” Gilchrist asked. “Is he going to round them up and deport them? I don’t think so.”

WND asked Gilchrist if he thought employers would respect the guest worker provisions of the Pence plan.

“We have enforcement provisions now that we don’t enforce, why should Mike Pence’s plan be any different?” Gilchrist answered. “The 1986 law makes it a crime for an U.S. employer to hire an illegal alien today. Why don’t we just start by enforcing that law?”

Gilchrist said the U.S. has “millions of illegal aliens being paid under the table by large employers who are openly committing payroll tax fraud and Congressman Pence’s proposal just assumes employers are going to quit doing this? I don’t think so. Employers are not going to check for Mike Pence’s guest worker passes any more than today they fill out the forms I-9 INS forms required by the 1986 law.”

WND asked Gilchrist if he had given Pence permission to say the Minuteman Project had endorsed the compromise.

“No,” Gilchrist responded, “we did not give Congressman Pence that permission. We admire that attempt to compromise, but any compromise that does not first secure the border and enforce our current laws is going to end up accomplishing nothing.”

Under Pence’s plan, Gilchrist said, “the end result would be that the illegal immigrants already here would just stay and more would feel an open invite to cross the border, assuming they would be ‘guest workers’ one way or the other.”

WND asked Gilchrist whether he considered the Pence compromise to be an amnesty program.

“The Pence plan is going to end up being an amnesty just like all the other guest worker plans,” Gilchrist responded. “No matter how you package the idea, as soon you open up the idea that guest workers can stay, every illegal immigrant wanting to be in the U.S. immediately reclassifies themselves as a guest worker.

“Is Pence’s bill going to have the billions needed for law enforcement to prove otherwise? Again, I don’t think so.”

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