The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story the other day that reported that DJs on Spanish radio stations were counseling immigrants not to miss work, but rather attend marches and rallies after working. Some immigrant activists are worried about a backlash of anger.
They are right to be worried. On Tuesday, President Bush told an audience in
When Gov. Pete Wilson began pressuring President George H. Bush to pay states for the costs related to the federal government’s failure to guard the border (and mandating states to pay for costs related to illegal immigration, such as health care and welfare), early on the debate took the same tone it is taking today. Civil servants told appointees that we could not refer to "illegal aliens" (the common term used in government programs in the eary ’90s), but rather "undocumented immigrants." Reporters called with questions such as, "Why does the governor hate immigrants?"
Despite many meetings and conversations with Dan Schnur and others in the Wilson Administration about how we were going to help the governor keep his message clean (the campaign was about the federal government’s failed immigration policies, not about the people), the reaction from the press and activists was to immediately make it about the people. I am beginning to believe that the mainstream press and immigration activists will never let this country have a clean and honest debate about our immigration policies.
The boycott scheduled for Monday is based on the notion that the is being unfair to immigrants. When a fellow I know from was telling me a couple of weeks ago about Monday’s boycott, I asked him when he and his friends would be demonstrating and rallying in against Vincente Fox and the Mexican government. That’s where the real problem is. Yet, the press is reporting that Mexican citizens will be boycotting U.S. owned business in Mexico on Monday. So, let me get this straight, the poor Mexicans living in Mexico who risk life and limb to come to this nation to earn a better living actually believe that it is the U.S. government that keeps their families living in proverty in their own country, not their own Mexican government?
In our conversation about the boycott, I told this fellow that most Americans recognize that most illegal immigrants come to this nation for the same reason our immigrant ancestors did: more economic opportunity. But after Sept. 11th, Americans cannot simply sit back and let illegal immigration continue unchecked. It’s not that we don’t want immigrants in our country, it’s that we need to know who is in our nation and why. If we know who is here, we can let the good guys stay and kick the bad guys out. But if we turn a blind eye to the stream of people coming over our border without our permission, we’re asking for another tragedy like Sept. 11th.
I believe that we need a guest worker program and probably one that is much larger than in the past. In some ways, America’s need to send everyone to college has created a population that is too educated to clean houses or lay brick. My grandmother cleaned houses, but I’ll be honest that house cleaning is not a career option for my children.
So let’s set up a guest worker program that allows people from and other lands to come here and better their lives. But that needs to include documenting the workers so we know where people are residing and for whom they are working. Frankly, that will help keep protect workers too.
Immigration activists call for a crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants without paying them minimum wage or abiding by labor laws. I’m all for that, as long as we also deal with the problem of fraudulent documents. Law-abiding employers who check documents have no way of knowing if the documents are legal or not. Again, the federal government is ignoring its responsibility to come up with national identification document is cannot be counterfeited.
Finally, the boycott that immigration activists have scheduled for Monday is being called “Great American Boycott of 2006: No Shopping, No School, No Work." I have to ask, does that also mean no trips to the emergency room on the government’s dime? How about trips to the welfare office to collect checks the American government pays to illegal parents of children born in the United States. And I’m hoping that the illegal students attending
All of us who believe that our federal government needs to bring some common sense and sanity to our immigration policies should proudly wear something red, white and blue on Monday. The debate should be respectful, but those of us who support immigration, but want our nation’s laws to be enforced have a right to be heard as well.