Lou Dobbs and His Hypocritical Crusade Against Employers of Illegals

There is no question that the workers were not authorized to work in the United States. That’s an established fact. The only question is whether Dobbs knew, or should have known, that the contractors he relied on to provide the labor he needed -- a West Palm Beach landscaping company and a Vermont-based stable -- hired illegal workers. Dobbs insists that he had no idea, and that he’s the victim here -- of character assassination by his enemies.

And who are his enemies these days? They’re not who you might think. Since leaving CNN last year, Dobbs has expressed support for comprehensive immigration reform and earned a whole slew of critics from the restrictionist right. To the crowd that insists the country is being invaded by landscapers, cooks, and housekeepers, Dobbs is Benedict Arnold.

For my part, I go back and forth on how hard we should be on those people who employ illegal immigrants -- or, in Dobbs’ case, rely on third-party contractors who do the dirty work so employers can keep their hands clean.

You’ll find employers who actively deceive authorities, mock our immigration laws, exploit their workers, and then, when they get caught, insult the intelligence of the rest of us by insisting that they know nothing. Those people should be punished harshly, much more so than they tend to be.

But you’ll also find employers who want to do the right thing but don’t have any way of knowing who is in the country legally and who isn’t. They’d like to offer jobs to American workers but they can’t get any takers -- even though they’re paying decent wages, perhaps as much as $12 to $15 per hour. The immigration system is broken, and no one knows this better than U.S. employers. There are bad apples, for sure. But as a class, they never deserved the broad-brush indictment they got from the likes of Lou Dobbs.

What they did deserve is something that, ironically, Dobbs now expects the rest of us to give him: a little empathy, a fair hearing, and the benefit of the doubt.