(Audio above: Alabama Senate candidate supports giving illegal immigrants tax ID numbers)
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — 33-year-old United States Senate candidate Jonathan McConnell told a local group of grassroots conservatives that plans to remove millions of illegal immigrants from the country are impractical, and he would instead propose giving them “tax ID numbers” so that companies employing them would have a higher tax burden.
A voter attending the monthly meeting of the Rainy Day Patriots Tea Party asked McConnell what he would do with the illegal immigrants already in the country.
“So you issue everybody a tax ID number today, right? And I know you’re not a fan of this,” McConnell said before being interrupted.
“I’m tired of politicians saying that (expelling illegal immigrants already in the country) can’t be done,” replied the questioner, Edward Bowman, who supports Shadrack McGill, another candidate in the race. “It can be done.”
“I’m all about trying,” McConnell interjected. “We’ll try that first, but if it doesn’t work. OK, so let’s try it. I’m all about it. And if we can deport 3 million, and then if that works, then hey…”
The audience member continued to press the issue, saying, “So we issue them a tax ID, so we’re going to give them amnesty is basically what you’re saying.”
“No, no, no,” McConnell insisted. “So you give them a tax ID number, and if anybody is caught paying one – you do it based off the corporations. So if a corporation is using someone illegally. So they’re paying taxes on one, but you also fine them – or not fine them – but you add pretty much double the taxes paid on that one person, you never give them a single benefit, right?”
McConnell’s proposal appears similar to one advanced by the Obama administration, which calls for giving illegal immigrants federal identification numbers.
The IRS said such a plan would allow illegal immigrants to retroactively file tax returns for the previous three years, which would cost American taxpayers roughly $1.7 billion over the next decade.
Senator Jeff Sessions has been a vocal opponent of giving illegal immigrants federal ID numbers, and sponsored legislation prohibiting such an arrangement from taking place under the President’s “executive amnesty” plan.
McConnell’s support for what many conservatives will view as amnesty also reintroduces questions about his maritime security firm’s partnership with a company called Blueseed.
Blueseed’s plan was to station a ship 12 miles off the coast of California and convert it into a tech incubator, providing Silicon Valley with the low-cost immigrant labor they have been lobbying for in Washington.
“If you are outside of the U.S., you’ll have to enter the U.S. first before boarding the Blueseed vessel,” the company explains. “The best way to do this, and to be allowed to legally come to mainland, is to obtain a B1 (business) or B2 (tourist) visa. These visas are easier to obtain because they don’t grant the right to work in the U.S., are usually valid for 10 years … and are often combined into a B1/B2 business/pleasure visa.”
McConnell told Alabama sports website and liberal political blog al.com that his company simply sought to provide Blueseed with security for their vessel, not necessarily support their business model.
“I’m not sure exactly what the purpose of that vessel was,” he said. “Our goal was to provide security for a vessel out in the ocean. We’re in the business of securing ships, so that’s what we end up doing. I stand by my policy on immigration.”
Alabama’s Republican primary is set to take place March 1st.
Update: The full audio of the exchange between Jonathan McConnell and the audience member can be heard in the video above, and the full transcript is below.
AUDIENCE: “It would be cheaper to throw the Mexicans out than keep them here.”
MCCONNELL: “Yes sir. If we could do it. Here’s the thing. I just don’t know anything the federal government does well. If you want to kick them all out, that’s fine. And I would be OK with that. But I don’t see a way. I cannot name anything the federal government does well, besides tax and spend a whole lot of money… So if someone came up with a good plan to kick everybody out, and locate 21 million, and that’s the biggest guess anybody has, 21 million illegal immigrants. If we had that many illegal aliens in the United States and we could locate them all and then kick them out, I’d be all about it. But listen, I’d be for a common sense approach.”
AUDIENCE: “So what are we going to do with the ones that are already here?
MCCONNELL: “OK. So you issue everybody a tax ID number today, right? And I know you’re not a fan of this, but all I’m saying is –”
AUDIENCE: President Eisenhower had a very good program, and it worked. It was Operation Wetback. He started deporting 3 million, and 8 million deported themselves. So it can be done. And I’m tired of politicians saying that it can’t be done. It can be done.
MCCONNELL: “I’m all about trying. We’ll try that first, but if it doesn’t work. OK, so let’s try it. I’m all about it. And if we can deport 3 million, and then if that works, then hey –”
AUDIENCE: So we issue them a tax ID, so we’re going to give them amnesty is basically what you’re saying.
MCCONNELL: “No, I don’t think you give them amnesty at all.”
AUDIENCE: “So we put them in a corner by themselves and say ‘Well, we got illegals here, we’ll just give them tax ID numbers, and that’s it.”
MCCONNELL: “No, no, no. So you give them a tax ID number, and if anybody is caught paying one – you do it based off the corporations. So if a corporation is using someone illegally. So they’re paying taxes on one, but you also fine them – or not fine them – but you add pretty much double the taxes paid on that one person, you never give them a single benefit, right? So let’s say it’s a roofer that normally would pay an illegal alien $15 an hour cash under the table. You issue them a tax ID number, and now they’re still going to pay the FICA that everybody else pays, so $15 an hour, plus 17 and a half percent, and then we’re going to tack another 50 percent on top of that. Because it’s an illegal alien, right? So they shouldn’t be here in the first place. They’re never going to be entitled to any benefits at all. And they’re not going to, ever, be entitled to any benefits or citizenship. So now you’ve disincentivized the use of that labor because now it’s not any cheaper to use that labor at all. But the other thing about it too, is now if someone is caught using someone and paying them under the table, then hey, $25,000 first time you get caught doing it, $50,000 the next time, $75,000 the next time.”