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Workplace Raids, Pelosi, and Me

Enforcing immigration laws and holding people accountable for their actions is the American way. Or at least it should be.

by
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Bio

March 29, 2009 - 12:45 am
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When they’re in the throes of an immigration debate, liberals claim they accept the premise that ours is a country of laws and that it’s reasonable to enforce those laws, but they don’t really mean it. Case in point: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is not keen on workplace raids as a means of enforcing federal immigration law. Pelosi recently drove home that point in a couple of speeches that have immigration restrictionists buzzing.

Ironically, I’m probably more in line with Pelosi on the larger issue of immigration reform than I am with the restrictionists who blast her. She and I agree on a lot. Like the fact that nativism and racism are fueling the anxieties of many Americans; they did 100 years ago when people like Pelosi’s Italian immigrant grandparents were derided, and they do today with immigrants from Mexico being the cultural interlopers. We also both agree that comprehensive immigration reform — a combination of enforcement and earned legalization for the undocumented — is the way to proceed, as opposed to the lazy and discredited enforcement-only approach.

But Pelosi and I part company when it comes to immigration raids. Maybe that’s because while her father was a congressman, mine is a retired cop. Pelosi started bashing raids at a mostly Hispanic gathering at St. Anthony’s Church in San Francisco on March 7. The event was organized by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who is conducting a 17-city, cross-country tour called “United Families.” The endeavor is intended to put a human face on the immigration debate. Pelosi told the crowd: “Who in this country would not want to change a policy of kicking in doors in the middle of the night and sending a parent away from their families? … It must be stopped. … What value system is that? I think it’s un-American. I think it’s un-American.”

Then on March 23 before the U.S.-Mexico Congressional Border Issues Conference in Washington, Pelosi recalled her earlier comments and added: “Raids that break up families in that way, just kick in the door in the middle of the night, taking father, a parent away, that’s just not the American way. It must stop. It’s just not the American way.”

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