Our continued tolerance of illegal immigration is as unconscionable as America’s former acceptance of slavery. While the ethical implications of the treatment of illegal immigrants are quite complex, the solution to the problem of illegal immigration is simple.
Here are two dramatically conflicting examples of how undocumented workers are dealt with in this country. Each reflects a distinct moral dilemma that results from differing approaches to illegal immigration.
An illegal immigrant was employed for several years by a large agricultural consortium near my home. He was a dedicated and hard worker. He ended up in charge of watering and feeding hundreds of cattle. He was paid about $500 dollars a month and lived in a rundown farmhouse with other “migrant” workers.
His salary was paid in cash. He had no social security number. There were no payments to SSA, no income taxes. His employer provided no disability insurance.
This farm worker severely injured his hand and was unable perform his job. The company he worked for immediately fired him. They could not afford the possibility of his illicit employment being discovered.
Like most illegal immigrants, this man was nothing more than an indentured servant. He was of less value than a slave, since his employer had no pecuniary interest in him.
The 19th century architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who visited the south in the 1850s, wrote about the tasks of slaves and indentured servants (the blacks and the Irish) as cotton bales were loaded onto barges:
Negro hands were sent to the top of the bank, to roll the bales to the side, and Irishmen were kept below to remove them and stow them. On asking the mate (with some surmisings) the reason of this arrangement, he said —
“The niggers are worth too much to be risked here; if the Paddies are knocked overboard, or get their backs broke, nobody loses anything!”
It is a callous truth that many of America’s undocumented workers are in the same position as the “Paddies” were on the receiving end of those cotton bales. If migrant laborers have their hands shredded, or “get their backs broke, nobody loses anything!” (Except the hospitals that are forced by law to pay for the emergency medical treatment and are going bankrupt as a result.)
Injuries and injustices, like those that befell this farmhand, happen every day in America. Such inhumanity should be a source of national shame.
The second example is just as disturbing — for disparate reasons. A while ago I was called to be a character witness. The judge was running behind in his docket. I sat in the back of the courtroom and listened to two cases before it was my turn to take the stand.
The first dispute involved two illegal aliens. It was a continuation of a previous hearing. The couple (a man and a woman) may, or may not, have been married. The assertion was that they had been married in Mexico, but no marriage certificate had been produced. They had three young children. Their kids were “anchor babies” born in the United States. The mother and father were separated. The mother was demanding an increase in child support. The father was claiming that he had already paid.
The hearing was a textbook demonstration of the pervasiveness of political correctness. Both the complainant and the counter complainant (they were suing each other) had full legal representation. A “Hispanic Rights” organization, funded with federal money, provided their lawyers. Each of the parties had a court appointed interpreter. (Both of the illegal immigrants spoke passable English. I had earlier heard them conversing in English.)
The courtroom had the look and feel of a bad sitcom. As mother and father took turns on the stand, the judge would ask one of the parties a question. The person under oath would pretend not to understand the question, smiling at times, and wait for the interpretation. He or she would then reply in Spanish. The interpreter would relay the information to the judge in English. On a couple of occasions, the witness disagreed with the interpretation (or perhaps was not satisfied with his or her original response) and corrected the interpreter … in English. This costly charade (costly, at least, for the taxpayer) dragged on for nearly an hour.
In the end, the father agreed to make a partial payment — after he returned from Mexico to visit his “sick” mother. The sententious judge agreed and wished the father, who was abandoning his family, a safe trip “back home.”
Sitting in front of me was the defendant in the next case. He was a white seventeen-year-old boy who had been caught smoking on school property. (As if smoking in a schoolyard had never happened.) He had no criminal record. His single mother, a waitress, was with her son. They had no money for an attorney. When the white boy’s mother heard the judge’s decision in the previous case, she hugged her son and appeared to be optimistic. The judge had been more than respectful to the Hispanic clients in the preceding case. In fact, he had been fawning.
I will never forget what happened next. The judge berated the boy for fifteen minutes on the evils of tobacco. His Honor ordered the boy to serve six months probation and thirty days of community service. “I won’t tolerate such behavior in my county and in my court,” the magistrate pontificated.
The boy’s mother burst into tears. The teenage boy seethed with rage. “This is how racists are created,” I thought to myself.
Justice is no longer blind in America — it is politically correct imbroglio. Remember the ICE raid that Janet Napolitano quashed of the business in Bellingham, Washington? She ordered an investigation of the agents who conducted the raid. The owners of the company were merely fined — even though they could have been imprisoned under the law.
What happened to the undocumented workers in Bellingham who were using fake or stolen social security numbers and other forms of illegal identification to acquire employment? Twenty-seven (out of twenty-eight) were given work permits by the federal government. Reactions to the “justice” system from these types of coddled criminals can be seen here.
I said at the outset that the solution to the problem of illegal immigration was simple. I did not say it would be easy or painless. The real villains are the employers of these undocumented workers. Seeing the CEO of a major agri-business being handcuffed and hauled off to jail for hiring hundreds of illegal immigrants to pluck chickens would do more to stop the influx of illegals than a thousand miles of fence along our southern border.
Here’s how we stop illegal immigration: enforce our laws fairly, to the letter, and equitably. Aristotle, in Book III of the Politics, stated, “The law is reason unaffected by desire.” It isn’t any more in America … but it should be.