The sheer lunacy of the immigrant's freedom ride

Posted: Oct 07, 2003 12:00 AM

Democrats are currently pushing legislation that would grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. To corral publicity and support for this legislation, they've organized the "immigrants' freedom ride," which is supposed to evoke memories of the civil rights freedom rides of the 1960s.

Just one thing: The civil rights activists who risked their lives in the original freedom rides weren't criminals. They didn't break any laws. They were men and women fighting for civil rights. Illegal immigrants already have those rights, and they broke the law to get them.

The comparison is worse than faulty; it's an insult to civil rights activists who endured brutality at the hands of segregationists. It's also an insult to those immigrants who respected our laws enough to go through the naturalization process. By granting amnesty to large groups of illegal immigrants, we send an unmistakable message that respecting American laws is not important.

So why would Democrats peddle legislation that rewards lawbreakers, while all but ignoring legal immigrants? Cheap votes. Amnesty is an attempt to curry favor with Hispanics, the largest growing segment of voters. (Amnesty organizers give the game away by failing to seriously consider amnesty for illegal aliens of other nationalities.)

Not surprisingly, the "freedom ride" is sponsored by the AFL-CIO, which stands to substantially increase its rolls if illegal immigrants are granted amnesty. Politicians look at illegal aliens and see votes. Unions look at them and see money. I look at them and see disaster. Sept. 11 is proof that we need to tighten security at our borders to prevent terrorists from entering the country. In effect, this massive push for amnesty would be a free pass for foreign nationals to create a new identity and move freely within the United States. Like the Sept. 11 hijackers, they could then obtain driver's licenses and board planes without revealing their true identities or without triggering an alert on any security watch lists. Blanket amnesty would also have a devastating ripple effect on our economy by artificially lowering the wages for agricultural jobs and making it easier for employers to exploit unskilled immigrant workers.

Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) has a common-sense solution to the problem. Rather than grant blanket amnesty, he would reform existing guest-worker programs that allow immigrants to work seasonally in America to ensure that they earn the same wages as American citizens. At the end of a specified term, these seasonal workers would return to their country of origin. "Wages for all workers would rise because employers will be forced to pay an honest wage, not a black-market wage. Employee benefits and safety rules would apply to all workers," explained Tancredo in a recent press release.

Of course, Tancredo's proposal would not include amnesty for people who came here illegally. Immigrants who wish to live in America can follow the legal process for citizenship. The alternative - granting blanket citizenship to roughly 8 million illegal aliens - could devastate the agricultural market. At the same time, blanket amnesty would force those immigrants currently wading through the naturalization process to wait even longer to have their citizenship processed, because of the 8 million illegal that would have effectively butted to the front of the line.

For obvious reasons, the organizers of the "immigrants' freedom rides" don't talk about that, but someone needs to. Granting blanket amnesty to 8 million illegal immigrants could have a devastating impact on your community. It would be nice if Democrats gave more thought to that then to how immigration amnesty could be used to bribe new voters.