If the Department of Homeland Security were doing its job, it would have joined the Immigration and Naturalization Service, checking identification and employment records for at least some of the millions demonstrating for citizenship in recent days. I thought illegals were afraid to show themselves and preferred the shadows for fear of getting caught. No more. They are in our country and in our faces, daring us to catch them. They have nothing to fear because timid politicians won't enforce immigration laws.
One of the excuses made for their illegal behavior is that they "work hard." So do a lot of other people. That does not give anyone an automatic pardon for breaking our laws. The other excuse is that they are doing jobs Americans won't do. The Washington Times put a severe dent in that argument when it reported on an Alabama employment agency that sent 70 laborers and construction workers to job sites following Hurricane Katrina. According to the newspaper, employers sent the men home after just two weeks on the job. The employers explained, "The Mexicans had arrived."
Linda Swope, who operates Complete Employment Services, Inc. in Mobile, Ala., described the workers to reporter Jerry Seper as American citizens, Alabama residents and predominately black. Contractors, she said, had "urgently requested" them to help rebuild and clear devastated areas. But she said the workers were told to leave when the foreign workers showed up. The reason? The Mexicans would work for less money. Swope said, "I assure you it is not true that Americans don't want to work."
Democrats, after losing several past elections, may have calculated they must import votes in order to win future ones. Their strategy seems to be to demonize Republicans for opposing illegal entry into this country. The Democratic message is: when you become legal residents or citizens and can vote, be sure to vote for the party that allowed you to stay and not the party that wanted you to leave.
The strategist who came up with that one may live to regret it. The backlash against Democrats who encourage law breaking may be more severe than any political allegiance won from the illegal aliens. Expect the usual media polls to show the country divided, but trending toward a "compassionate" policy that would let them stay. As always, poll results will depend on how the questions are asked and the sound bites the networks use from people trained to get their talking points across.
Why have American citizens been forced to defend themselves against lawbreakers in this debate? Why are those of us born here, or who obeyed the laws in the process of becoming citizens, made to feel like the unwelcome wagon? Since when do those who abide by the law have to accept and indulge those who do not? If you break into my house, do you then have the right to raid the refrigerator and sleep in the guest room? Millions around the world would love the chance to come to America. Are they being sent the message that it is easier to get here illegally than legally?
When Congress reconvenes in a little more than a week, the Senate is likely to pass a bill that would grant amnesty without calling it that. The House will then have to stand firm in its majority opposition to any amnesty. The voters should decide this issue, which should be a part of every election campaign this fall. Every member and every candidate running for Congress (and any other office that is even remotely related to our borders and national security) should be asked his or her position on the infiltration by immigration now occurring in our country.
Many members of Congress will try to appear tough on illegal immigration to appease angry voters, which is why the public should carefully watch what they do and pay less attention to what they say. This debate is about the character and future of the nation and whether it will continue as it was handed down to us, or change irrevocably in ways that will not promote the general welfare of future generations. No politician should be allowed to trade this country's future for enough votes to stay in office. Any politician who would do that doesn't deserve to hold office.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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