James Sensenbrenner is at it again. He wants to make it a crime to offer any assistance to illegal immigrants.

Churches, social service agencies and immigration groups across the country are rallying against a provision in the recently passed House border-security bill that would make it a federal crime to offer services or assistance to illegal immigrants.

The measure would broaden the nation’s immigrant-smuggling law so that people who assist or shield illegal immigrants would be subject to prosecution. Offenders, who might include priests, nurses or social workers, could face up to five years in prison. The proposal would also allow the authorities to seize some assets of those convicted of such a crime.

The GOP is getting ready to demonize hispanics in the upcoming election, and Bush has no problem praising this bill, if not this specific provision.

President Bush has also praised the legislation.

“America is a nation built on the rule of law, and this bill will help us protect our borders and crack down on illegal entry into the United States,” Mr. Bush said after the House passed the measure. “Securing our borders is essential to securing the homeland.”

In his statement, Mr. Bush did not comment on the provision that is causing such a furor among churches and nonprofit groups. A White House spokesman referred questions about Mr. Bush’s position on the matter to the Justice Department.

John Nowacki, a spokesman for the department, declined to answer questions about whether the Bush administration supported the provision.

The provision will probably never become law, but it is one more wink and nod to the racists that like anything that can be perceived as being tough on brown people.

White House officials have emphasized in recent weeks, however, that Mr. Bush still believes that any immigration legislation should include a guest worker program that would grant millions of undocumented workers the right to work temporarily in this country.

The House bill does not include a guest worker program, but the Senate is expected to consider such a plan early next year. A guest worker plan would give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants. If that were to happen, the measure outlawing assistance to illegal immigrants might be removed or end up having little effect.

In the meantime, Sensenbrenner is making the bigots happy and Bush is pleased to play along.

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