Employers of illegal immigrants must be held accountable
By Cynthia Tucker
Universal Press Syndicate
Courtesy of WorkingForChange.com
Just once, I'd like to see a corporate executive whose company has knowingly hired illegal immigrants doing the perp walk for his offenses -- handcuffed, disgraced, chaperoned by law enforcement officials as cameras record his every tentative step. For just a few days, I'd like to see the conservative blogosphere roasting the textile mill managers and onion field owners who routinely make a mockery of immigration law with a wink and a nod at forged documents.
But that's not the way politics works, is it?
Business executives remain a core Republican constituency, so it's unlikely they'll end up facing criminal charges for illegal hiring. Besides, darker-hued Mexicans and Guatemalans seem to make more inviting targets than middle-aged white men.
From time to time, I've suggested that the most inflammatory rhetoric swirling at the fringes of the illegal immigration debate is born not of legitimate concern about overwhelmed social services but rather out of an old-fashioned xenophobia that cannot accept “the other.” That suggestion is usually greeted with denunciations from my critics, who claim they merely want the nation to enforce its laws.
So why is there so little criticism of business executives who routinely flout the law? Why has the legislation endorsed by law-and-order Republicans emphasized border security but slighted workplace enforcement?
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., is among the hardliners who oppose a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here. Just last week, Chambliss said such a proposal “sends the message to the American people that we are more eager to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship than we are to secure our borders from further illegal immigration and the smuggling of illegal drugs and weapons. That is not the message my constituents in Georgia want to hear.”
But no matter how many troops President Bush sends to the southern border, no matter how high or thick the fence he builds, no matter how many billions he pushes down the black hole of technological wizardry, desperate Latinos will find a way to sneak across. The president has said as much.
The more promising solution lies in cutting off the flow of jobs. If a few business executives were to be imprisoned for illegal hiring, the practice would experience a sudden drop in popularity. And if our southern neighbors come to understand that there is no work available for undocumented workers, fewer -- far fewer -- will try to sneak into this country.