In the soap opera that substitutes for an American immigration policy, there are three actors. The first is the immigrant.
I admire immigrants. They’ve traveled thousands of miles to build better lives in a strange land where many don’t even speak the language. They send much of the money they earn here back to their families in their homelands.
America could use more such courage, work ethic and selflessness. I like seeing such people come to America — legally.
But the illegal kind is a different story. Though they may be admirable in many respects, illegal immigrants are still breaking the law. To say that they are merely “undocumented workers” is to say that an intruder in your house is merely an “undocumented visitor.” It sacrifices truth at the altar of political correctness.
And so with no pejorative intent, I refer to such persons in the manner dictated by my training in law and my knowledge of English: I refer to people who immigrated illegally as “illegal immigrants.”
The second actor in this soap opera is the employer of an illegal immigrant. I have a lot less sympathy for this actor. In the interest of saving a few bucks, they lure immigrants into America illegally to hire them for wages that undercut the fair wages of American workers.
Moreover, the employer can coerce the illegal immigrant worker into working overtime without overtime pay, confiscate their tips and impose job-site conditions that American workers would not tolerate — all because the employer can threaten to call the authorities if they complain. That’s detestable.
The third set of actors in our drama is the politicians, and they’re the worst of all. Sure, they’ve passed laws declaring that it’s illegal to come across the border illegally, that it’s illegal to take a job here illegally and that it’s illegal to vote here illegally.
Moreover, the politicians’ laws say it’s also illegal for an employer to hire an illegal immigrant illegally. Doing so makes them an illegal employer. (No, let’s not call them “undocumented employers.”) Fines ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars can be imposed on such illegal employers.
Illegal employers can’t plausibly claim that they are unaware of the immigration status of their illegal workers. For just a few dollars on an internet website run by the federal government, employers in seconds can verify the immigration status and Social Security number of a worker with an accuracy of nearly 100 percent.
But here’s where the system breaks down.
The laws making it illegal to hire an illegal immigrant are seldom enforced. There are two reasons for this. The reasons are “Democrats” and “Republicans.”
Democrats like illegal immigration because they see the illegal immigrants — especially those who are racial minorities — as a constituency. Pandering to racial constituencies is their specialty. Those who oppose such pandering are quickly and vehemently labelled “racists.” Calling people “racists” is another one of their specialties.
The Republicans pander to a different constituency. The constituency to which they pander is business. Businesses like cheap labor. Illegal immigrants are the cheapest of all. And the easiest to coerce and fire.
So there you have it. An unholy alliance between pandering politicians of both parties has undermined the nation.
We make law-abiding immigrants wait in line while we let law-breakers cut the line. Stated another way, we tell would-be immigrants, “You are welcome to come here, but only if you do so in violation of our laws.”
Is that any way to run a country?
In an understandable desire to preserve the sovereignty of the nation, some citizens demand a border wall. They demand midnight raids on families. They demand heartbreak among immigrants commensurate with the heartbreak that they themselves feel at the porosity of the nation’s border and the disrespect for the nation’s laws.
But we don’t need a wall. We don’t need tears. We don’t need raids and we don’t need to break up families. We don’t need bravado to symbolize that we’re a nation.
We just need politicians with the morality and courage to enforce the laws already on the books that make the hiring of illegal immigrants illegal.
Fine employers who violate those laws. Fine them, as the president might say, “big time.”
Our illegal immigration problem would disappear overnight. And then we can again be the nation that takes the tired and poor who are yearning to breathe free, legally.
(Published Mar. 5, 2017 in The Aspen Times at http://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-no-wall-no-raids-just-enforce-the-employment-laws/)