President Bush’s recent proposal to deal with illegal immigrants does not go far enough to stop the worst offenders who unduly encourage illegal immigration, American employers. ...

Bush proposes tightening security at America’s borders. Borders certainly must be tighter to prevent not only illegal immigrants from entering the country, but also drug smugglers and possible terrorists.

Bush also proposes allowing foreign workers with jobs to stay in America by filing for temporary work visas, what he calls a “guest-worker” program.

That also is needed.

America’s economy is doing well and workers are needed for many manufacturing, construction and service industries. The United States should not, as Bush says, give amnesty to illegal immigrants living here now, but allow them to work with temporary visas and if they so desire, to apply for citizenship.

But companies that have been hiring illegal immigrants should not get off the hook so easily. Though Bush hasn’t said it, he is in effect proposing amnesty for businesses that have been hiring undocumented workers.

However, if Bush’s proposal is enacted and undocumented workers are allowed to apply for visas, the law should also require those companies that hired illegal immigrants to be identified and fined.

Employers guilty of hiring illegal immigrants are the ones responsible for generating an increasing flood of people over the border with Mexico. ...

Business interests have said they favor Bush’s guest-worker program. They certainly won’t favor penalties for illegal hiring in recent years. But again, they are most to blame for this crisis, and it is a crisis and adds to the seriousness of other social problems.

According to estimates, 11 million illegal immigrants are in the United States. As we and others have stated before, some will always come to America to escape authoritarian regimes or poverty, but some American employers have taken advantage for years of porous borders and the federal government’s inability to inspect every business in America.

Now it’s time businesses who employed illegal immigrants were called to account for their practices. Until they are penalized, they won’t stop.

The Muskogee Daily Phoenix