Im­mi­gra­tion wars

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Cal Thomas

Like the war on ter­ror­ism, progress in the im­mi­gra­tion war is also mixed. A fed­eral judge in San Fran­cisco has tem­po­rar­ily pre­vented the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion from us­ing mis­matched So­cial Se­cu­rity data to pe­nal­ize em­ploy­ers who hire il­le­gal aliens. The de­ci­sion came as wel­come news to the AFL-CIO, var­i­ous “im­mi­grants’ rights” groups and the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce who are be­hind a law­suit that claims the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s ac­tions are a vi­o­la­tion of the law.

Judge Charles Breyer, a Clin­ton ap­pointee like his brother the Supreme Court jus­tice, said the fed­eral crack­down would likely im­pose hard­ships on busi­nesses and their il­le­gal work­ers, caus­ing “se­ri­ous ir­repara­ble harm.” What about the prospect of ir­repara­ble harm to the coun­try if what amounts to an open-border pol­icy is al­lowed to con­tinue?

In Oklahoma, the tough­est im­mi­gra­tion law in the coun­try was al­lowed to take ef­fect when U.S. Dis­trict Judge James H. Payne re­fused to ac­cept ar­gu­ments from His­panic and im­mi­grants rights groups who tried to block it. Ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Times, the mea­sure, House Bill 1804, “pre­vents il­le­gal aliens from get­ting driver’s li­censes, de­nies them ev­ery pos­si­ble pub­lic ser­vice or ben­e­fit not re­quired by fed­eral law, gives state and lo­cal po­lice the abil­ity to en­force im­mi­gra­tion laws and be­gin­ning next year, re­quires em­ploy­ers to check new em­ploy­ees’ iden­ti­ties through a fed­eral data­base. [. . .] The judge al­lowed the law to take ef­fect while the case pro­ceeds.”

Lo­cal and state elec­tions last week were ex­pected to fur­ther con­trib­ute to the con­tro­versy, as vot­ers de­cided on bal­lot ini­tia­tives and can­di­dates that fa­vor or op­pose the pro­tec­tion of il­le­gal im­mi­grants. In Prince William County, Va., which has one of the coun­try’s largest il­le­gal im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tions, lo­cal film­mak­ers Annabel Park and Eric Byler fea­ture the ug­li­ness of the de­bate on YouTube.

As re­ported by The Wash­ing­ton Post, on one video “a man fu­ri­ous about hear­ing Span­ish at a hard­ware store be­rates a group of Latino fam­i­lies with a lec­ture on Amer­i­can his­tory, telling them ‘my an­ces­tors were here be­fore the Con­sti­tu­tion.’ A lit­tle girl shyly re­minds him: ‘The In­di­ans were here be­fore the Amer­i­cans.’ “

In an­other post­ing, frus­trated res­i­dents de­nounce a “for­eign in­va­sion” and warn of “civil war,” to which one scowl­ing young man taunts: “Bring it.”

Much of the anger is caused by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s re­fusal to ad­e­quately en­force ex­ist­ing im- mi­gra­tion laws. Most cit­i­zens know that if they break laws, they will pay a penalty. They know their driver’s li­cense is a priv­i­lege and that the state that is­sues them can take them away when cer­tain laws are bro­ken. They see New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer or­der­ing spe­cial classes of driver’s li­censes for il­le­gal im­mi­grants and re­gard it as a dou­ble stan­dard. Coun­tries to which Amer­i­cans travel pro­hibit us from work­ing in those coun­tries, but we are told we must ac­cept law-break­ing for­eign work­ers.

Il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion is one of sev­eral con­tribut­ing fac­tors to the grow­ing anger of many cit­i­zens who are told by courts, edi­to­rial writ­ers, some colum­nists, ac­tivists and other rab­ble that what­ever they be­lieve in, fight for, pay for and wor­ship must al­ways take sec­ond place to what oth­ers be­lieve, es­pe­cially if it op­poses their be­liefs. The law-abid­ing, “tra­di­tional value” crowd is never asked for their opin­ion on any­thing. Those with tra­di­tional val­ues are hav­ing what they re­gard as il­le­gal­i­ties and im­moral­i­ties im­posed upon them with all of the gusto they are so of­ten ac­cused of wish­ing to im­pose on oth­ers. They see the coun­try be­ing trans­formed with­out their per­mis­sion and are rightly dis­turbed about it.

As Thanks­giv­ing, and what used to be called Christ­mas, ap­proaches, they an­tic­i­pate new as­saults on their rights to ob­serve their be­liefs, rit­u­als and tra­di­tions, all in the name of a plu­ral­ism that doesn’t in­clude them. Just once they would like to see gov­ern­ment up­hold their rights, their be­liefs and the laws they must obey.

The war over im­mi­gra­tion is es­sen­tially a bat­tle for the His­panic vote. Politi­cians will do any­thing to get it, in­clud­ing dis­re­gard­ing the laws they are sworn to up­hold. The politi­cian who gets on the wrong side of this is­sue — like Hil­lary Clin­ton did in the most re­cent Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial de­bate — is likely to pay a heavy price from the ma­jor­ity who obey laws. For the mo­ment, we still out­num­ber the il­le­gals.

Cal Thomas is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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