Like the war on terrorism, progress in the immigration war is also mixed.
A federal judge in San Francisco has temporarily prevented the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration from using mismatched Social Security data to penalize employers who hire illegal aliens. The decision came as welcome news to the AFL-CIO, various "immigrants' rights" groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who are behind a lawsuit that claims the federal government's actions are a violation of the law.
Judge Charles Breyer, a Clinton appointee like his brother the Supreme Court justice, said the federal crackdown would likely impose hardships on businesses and their illegal workers, causing "serious irreparable harm." What about the prospect of irreparable harm to the country if what amounts to an open-border policy is allowed to continue?
In Oklahoma, the toughest immigration law in the country was allowed to take effect when U.S. District Judge James H. Payne refused to accept arguments from Hispanic and immigrants rights groups who tried to block it. According to the Washington Times, the measure, House Bill 1804, "prevents illegal aliens from getting driver's licenses, denies them every possible public service or benefit not required by federal law, gives state and local police the ability to enforce immigration laws and beginning next year, requires employers to check new employees' identities through a federal database. Š The judge allowed the law to take effect while the case proceeds."
Local and state elections this week are expected to further contribute to the controversy, as voters decide on ballot initiatives and candidates that favor or oppose the protection of illegal immigrants. In Prince William County, Va., which has one of the country's largest illegal immigrant populations, local filmmakers Annabel Park and Eric Byler feature the ugliness of the debate on YouTube.
As reported by the Washington Post, on one video "a man furious about hearing Spanish at a hardware store berates a group of Latino families with a lecture on American history, telling them Œmy ancestors were here before the Constitution.' A little girl shyly reminds him: ŒThe Indians were here before the Americans.'"
In another posting, frustrated residents denounce a "foreign invasion" and warn of "civil war," to which one scowling young man taunts: "Bring it."
Much of the anger is caused by the federal government's refusal to adequately enforce existing immigration laws. Most citizens know that if they break laws, they will pay a penalty. They know their driver's license is a privilege and that the state that issues them can take them away when certain laws are broken. They see New York Governor Eliot Spitzer ordering special classes of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants and regard it as a double standard. Countries to which Americans travel prohibit us from working in those countries, but we are told we must accept law-breaking foreign workers.
Illegal immigration is one of several contributing factors to the growing anger of many citizens who are told by courts, editorial writers, some columnists, activists and other rabble that whatever they believe in, fight for, pay for and worship must always take second place to what others believe, especially if it opposes their beliefs. The law-abiding, "traditional value" crowd is never asked for their opinion on anything. Those with traditional values are having what they regard as illegalities and immoralities imposed upon them with all of the gusto they are so often accused of wishing to impose on others. They see the country being transformed without their permission and they are rightly disturbed about it.
As Thanksgiving, and what used to be called Christmas, approaches, they anticipate new assaults on their rights to observe their beliefs, rituals and traditions, all in the name of a pluralism that doesn't include them. Just once they would like to see government uphold their rights, their beliefs and the laws they must obey.
The war over immigration is essentially a battle for the Hispanic vote. Politicians will do anything to get it, including disregarding the laws they are sworn to uphold. The politician who gets on the wrong side of this issue - like Hillary Clinton did in the most recent Democratic presidential debate - is likely to pay a heavy price from the majority who obey laws. For the moment, we still outnumber the illegals.
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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