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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

The return of sanity to the immigration debate seems shocking, but shouldn't be

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Friday, February 24, 2017 09:01 pm
If your goal is to defeat President Trump's call for a border wall and increased deportations, it's probably not productive to remind millions of Americans why they voted for him in the first place. And that could be precisely the result of the recent "Day Without Immigrants" strike, starting with the obvious and cynical omission in its title. America isn't questioning the wisdom of immigration. It's questioning the continued tolerance of out-of-control illegal entry and its impact on the country's culture, economy and security.

People who have in effect broken into the country are in no position to assert a right to do so indefinitely, especially at their employers' expense. But someone apparently forgot to inform an anonymous former employee of Bradley Coatings Inc. in Nashville, Tenn., who along with 17 others was fired for protesting when he was supposed to be working.

"I would tell (the owner) he was unfair, after working for them for so many years, giving him our best. They could not understand it was just one day," the employee said.

The reaction was similar from 12 Hispanic cooks fired by the I Don't Care Bar and Grill in Catoosa, Okla., six of whom told  KTUL-TV through an interpreter they, too, were terminated unfairly despite failing to notify their boss in advance of their absence. "They're upset they stood for something they felt was necessary so the community would stand together and they got terminated for that," a friend told the station.

Well, yes: In a sane world that's exactly what should happen to employees whose willful absence makes it difficult or impossible for their employees to operate, thereby costing the company money and harming co-workers and customers alike. Jim Serowski, grandson of Polish immigrants and founder of JVS Masonry in Commerce, City, Col., no doubt spoke for many affected business owners when he called the unauthorized walk-out by 30 employees a slap in the face.

"It's about the work ethic. They were warned: 'If you do this, you're hurting the company . . . If you're going to stand up for what you believe in, you have to be willing to pay the price," Serowski told CNN. At least 100 people lost their jobs nationwide as a result of participating in a strike intended to demonstrate how dependent the American economy has become on immigrant labor.

But sanity has very little to do with the current immigration debate which, perversely, often elevates the needs of people who have broken the law above the law itself or the national interest and sovereignty. That's why Mexican President Enrique Pena Neito could tell Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week, with no sense of irony or  shame, that "the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept measures that, in a unilateral way, one government wants to impose on another."

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said the new administration's crackdown on illegal immigrants — now estimated at 11 to 15 million — creates "concern to respect the rights of Mexicans living in the U.S."

But Trump has not suggested violating their rights; he's merely said it might be nice to enforce laws that are already on the books but have been ignored for various reasons by both political parties. As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated with refreshing candor, "two sovereign countries from time to time will have differences."

Mexico has for years employed a national policy encouraging its citizens to enter the U.S. illegally. Surely America has at least an equal right to assert its national interest on its side of the border.

The effort to create so-called "sanctuary cities" will be equally counterproductive, and not just because such cities risk the loss of billions of federal dollars and are overwhelmingly opposed by the American people, according to a recent Harvard-Harris poll. Sanctuary policies not only endanger the public by allowing criminal aliens to remain free; they encourage politically motivated disrespect for all laws. What's to stop a conservative city from declaring itself free of Roe vs. Wade?

The ultimate irony may be this: Had the strike indeed created enough disruption to demonstrate America's "need" for immigrants, it would have placed the emphasis squarely where it belongs. Immigration policy is not intended to be altruistic. This and all other nations have the sovereign right to determine how many people to admit, for how long, and which skills are needed and which are not. The details are negotiable and subject to the political process.

The rule of law and integrity of America's borders should not be.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com or call him at 461-8355.



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