Our efforts to end the illegal alien invasion occasionally need a good shot in the arm. The best shot we have received in the past two years was in March 2006 when more than 500,000 illegal aliens and/or illegal alien supporters marched through the streets of Los Angeles carrying flags of other nations, yelling chants in other languages, and demanding that the American people provide immediate amnesty (complete with all of the taxpayer-funded benefits they could DREAM up). Since then, Congress attempted amnesty (twice), and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer attempted to provide driver’s licenses to illegal aliens in his State – and darn near turned the Hillary Clinton campaign upside down in the process!
Not to be outdone by Spitzer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-North Korea) succeeded (at least temporarily) in keeping life difficult for employers, particularly small businesses. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) had drafted a short but sweet amendment to a budget bill which would have prohibited the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) -- the federal government’s civil rights watchdog – from using funds appropriated by the bill to finance lawsuits against businesses which require employees to speak English on the job.
Senator Alexander is considered by many to be a “moderate” Republican, and his amendment did not exactly reach for the stars. The EEOC could still sue companies with English-only rules; the amendment only prohibited the EEOC from using certain monies to finance the suits. The amendment would only apply to lawsuits filed in the future, cold comfort to businesses which have already been haled into court. The amendment would only protect a business “entity,” meaning that self-employed individuals and informal businesses would not be protected.
Still, the amendment was certainly a step in the right direction, and both houses of Congress knew it. The budget bill, with Senator Alexander’s amendment, passed the Senate on a vote of 75 to 19. The House concurred in the amendment by a vote of 218 to 186. What could possibly stand in the way of a common sense reform with substantial majorities on both sides of Capitol Hill?
Madame Pelosi, of course.
Now, the last time I checked the Constitution, the Speaker of the House cannot veto legislation. Only the person who works in the Oval Office has a veto pen (although, until recently, he appeared to have lost it in the cushions of the decorative Oval Office couches). But that’s what The Gentlewoman From San Francisco effectively did in early November, agreeing to requests from Representatives Joe Baca (D-CA) (Chair, Hispanic Caucus) and Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) and other pro-amnesty Democrats to block the amendment.
Good job, Nancy! Thank you for spending your political capital to kill a bill with majority support in both houses. Keep it up, Mrs. P. The voters are learning of your arrogance. With a few more stunts like this, you will be self-deporting from the Speaker’s Office.
Meanwhile, in Connecticut, five Spanish-speaking immigrants (who are in the country legally, according to news reports) filed suit against their employer for requiring that they speak English on the job. During work breaks and lunch hours and on their own time, the employees were free to speak Spanish or Vietnamese or a remote dialect of Chinese for all their employer cared, but, on the job – in the potentially dangerous confines of a sheet metal manufacturing and finishing plant – employees had to speak English.
This is the type of situation which calls out for what lawyers like myself call “a bright-line rule,” a simple statement of what is legal and what is not. No such luck. If a private employer wants to require the use of English in the workplace, the law states that the employer cannot make a blanket demand for English by all employees at all times; meanwhile, a more nuanced policy which only requires English of certain employees at certain times because of safety or business considerations may be legal, but no one really knows for sure until a disgruntled employee (or left-wing extremist group) files a claim. Click to read the EEOC’s twisted explanation of the pretzel-like law.
Because the rules are so complicated, employers are forced to hire expensive lawyers to review and revise their English-only policies – a needless expense since all the employers want to do is make sure that everyone on the job speaks the language of the country.
Senator Alexander gets it. The American people get it (a recent Rasmussen poll indicates Americans overwhelmingly support an employer’s right to establish and maintain English-only standards in the workplace (77 percent support the employer’s right to 14 percent who oppose it)). Even the United States Congress gets this one (Senate 75-19 and House 218-186). Apparently only Pelosi, Baca and the Hispanic Caucus don’t!
“A federal agency says it is illegal for an employer to require employees to speak in English, which, in plain English, means that thousands of small businesses in America would have to hire a lawyer and be prepared to make their case to a federal agency that there is some special reason to justify speaking English on the job,” Senator Alexander said in a statement after Pelosi killed his amendment. “I believe this is a gross distortion of the Civil Rights Act and a complete misunderstanding of what it means to be an American.”
While Senator Alexander is correct, I also say: Bring it on! Let’s have more employees filing more ridiculous lawsuits against companies that require English, generating more and more press. Let’s have the majority of voters – understandably distracted right now with the holiday season – learn over time how unreasonable and un-American many of the people in the illegal alien lobby are. Why?
Because what goes around comes around. In time, these outrages – and many others which I discuss daily on my radio show – will result in legislation far stricter than Senator Alexander’s toe in the water. Enough of these contemptible lawsuits (brought under color of misguided and misinterpreted U.S. law) will inevitably result in tough enforcement legislation which will cause millions of illegal aliens to self-deport.
So, keep it up, Speaker Pelosi, disgruntled employees and illegal alien supporters who enjoy the benefits of America but refuse to shoulder the responsibilities, keep it up. You will win a few battles, and those victories will cause you to lose the war, for which I will be thankful.
Kevin James began his professional career in 1988 as a lawyer with one of Los Angeles' largest law firms. Soon thereafter, Kevin spent more than 3 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in LA, and then more than 10 years as a litigator in high profile entertainment matters.