The pending immigration proposal in Congress isn’t amnesty because of the fines it demands, and would allow deportation for those who fail to follow its provisions, according to a spokesman for the White House.

“That’s what the law says,” spokesman Tony Snow said in response to a question from Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House.

“In Georgia, the president declared those determined to find fault with this bill will always be able to look at a narrow slice of it and find something that they don’t like. But Chairman [Brian] Bilbray, a Republican of California, said amnesty for 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens – immigrants isn’t a narrow slice, Mr. President, it’s the whole darn pie. … What is the president’s response to this and to Republican … Congressman Bill Sali, who said, ‘I can safely say that the No. 1 issue with my constituents is immigration, which is no small slice of pie?'” Kinsolving asked.

Snow launched his response by denying that the plan is amnesty. “Right now a lot of times ‘amnesty’ is used as shorthand for saying, we don’t like the bill,” he said. “If you look up the dictionary definition of amnesty, it means total forgiveness of a crime.

“What you have here is a crime [entering the U.S. illegally] for which there was no punishment originally. Now what we’re saying is everybody who came across the border, No. 1, you pay a thousand dollar fine. No. 2, you are on permanent probation. If you break the law, you’re deported. If you do not maintain a job, you are deported. If you do not learn the English language, you’re deported. If you do not subject yourself to a criminal background check, you’re deported. If you do not have an ID that allows us to trace who you are, where you are, for whom you work, you are deported,” he said.

Kinsolving followed up with a question about what percentage of those who are illegal aliens now – and have come into the United States in violation of federal law – are expected to follow the provisions of another, newer, federal law.

“All of them are going to have to. That’s what the law says,” Snow responded.

Snow said in addition to the threat of deportation for being in violation of a federal law, a penalty already available under existing U.S. law, the new law would set up a series of tests for people who wish to be on American soil.

“And then if you wish to become a citizen, you have to start with the $4,000 fine, you have to start with a $1,500 application fee. There’s also conversation about paying back taxes,” he said. “That’s not amnesty. As a matter of fact, what it is, is the most strenuous and arduous test of people’s willingness to step forward, to demonstrate good behavior, and to demonstrate an embrace of the culture in the history of the United States of America.

“These are people who would not be able to have access to the welfare system. These are people who must contribute, who must be paying taxes, who must be having a constructive contribution to the United States of America over an extended period of time, having paid fines that were not in the law when they came here, and will be, in fact, forced to do what one would expect to be good guests,” Snow said.

He also said fines against employers who hire illegal aliens also would rise, providing a disincentive for them to protect illegal aliens.

Opponents of immigration law changes that would legitimize the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in the United States now say it should be just a matter of securing the nation’s borders and enforcing existing law to bring the problem under control.

Snow also ducked a second question from Kinsolving about defending against and deflecting a possible strike on the United States by terror groups.

WND asked: “Syndicated columnist and university professor Walter Williams has noted that the United States successfully deterred a nuclear attack for decades during the Cold War by promising a massive nuclear retaliation for an attack on the United States, as was done by President Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis. … Does President Bush have the same commitment if Iran or any other nation unleashes a nuclear 9/11 on us?”

Snow responded only to the mention of Iran.

“We’re spending a lot of time working on preventing Iran from having that capability,” he said. “It is the subject of ongoing conversations in front of the United Nations Security Council. The International Atomic Energy Agency is in the game, as well. So it is our aspiration to make sure that that does not become a problem we have to deal with.”

However, he did not respond to the possibility that any other group could launch such an attack.

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