Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Born In East L.A.

Posted by Codemorse

From the Washington Post:

The Bush administration, which is vowing to crack down on U.S. companies that hire illegal workers, virtually abandoned such employer sanctions before it began pushing to overhaul U.S. immigration laws last year, government statistics show.

Between 1999 and 2003, work-site enforcement operations were scaled back 95 percent by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which subsequently was merged into the Homeland Security Department. The number of employers prosecuted for unlawfully employing immigrants dropped from 182 in 1999 to four in 2003, and fines collected declined from $3.6 million to $212,000, according to federal statistics. In 1999, the United States initiated fines against 417 companies. In 2004, it issued fine notices to three.

The government's steady retreat from workplace enforcement in the 20 years since it became illegal to hire undocumented workers is the result of fierce political pressure from business lobbies, immigrant rights groups and members of Congress, according to law enforcement veterans. Punishing employers also was de-emphasized as the government recognized that it lacks the tools to do the job well, and as the Department of Homeland Security shifted resources to combat terrorism.

Besides showing that immigration essentially exists as a wedge issue to exploit during election cycles, this article makes it pretty clear what needs to be done to help correct the problems of illegal immigration. Namely, hold businesses actually and consequentially accountable for the hiring and hiding of illegals.

The idea that illegal immigrants "do the jobs Americans don't want to do" is deeply insulting to me. In my short life I've worked construction, landscaping and maintenence, and the pride one feels at the end of a day is no different than that of any other professional. It's the pride of a job well done.

What makes stupid comments like the above possible is the simple fact that businesses are now able to get away with paying much, much less to have immigrants do these sorts of jobs. That's why Americans don't want to work landscaping. Because it pays dick.

And who's fault is that? Why, it's our businesses. It's fashionable for liberals like me to blame corporations for all the country's troubles but the fact is, a spade's a spade. As the article points out, any real policing of hiring procedures or of documentation, or of pretty much anything has ground to a halt up until this year. Funding has been slashed. Oversight abandoned.

And yet, now these politicians would have you believe that they care whether immigrants sneak into this country. It's fundamentally disingenuous of these people - who regularly look the other way as Maria makes up their hotel room, Pablo busses their tables, and Sun Lee does their dry cleaning - to turn around and claim to care. They've helped to create this problem. They've helped dismantle the infrastructure created to deal with this stuff.

Notice that I'm not saying "The Republicans are to blame!" That's because they aren't. Our government is to blame. Both sides of the aisle have grown fat and lazy on the backs of immigrant labor. Until businesses are honestly and rigorously held accountable for the employment of illegal aliens, the problem will continue to worsen. Because when has this country ever turned down cheap, questionable labor voluntarily?


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