Monday, October 17, 2005

Since when is "illegal" a race?

From the Marin Independent Journal in Marin, CA, we have this fascinating bit of news. Did you know that "illegal laborer" is a racial designation?

:::::::: A sign urging the customers of a San Rafael business not to hire day laborers has angered and frustrated local workers, who say it's making it harder for them to find a job.

But employees of U-Haul on East Francisco Boulevard who posted the sign say they're only trying to protect their customers - and themselves - from the risks involved in hiring undocumented workers.

The large cardboard sign, on display in the moving company's customer service area for the past three days, reads "Please do not hire illegal laborers. We have had numerous reports of injuries, thefts and damages to personal belongings. It is a federal crime to employ or pick up illegal day laborers, punishable by a $5,000 fine."
"Some of these (day laborers) they deal with are good, and some aren't," Singh said. "We're telling them what could happen, and that if they choose to hire someone, it's at their own risk."

Emilio Robles doesn't see it that way.

The Canal Street resident is one of about 10 who gather outside the U-Haul building every morning - weekends included - in search of work. He doesn't like being characterized as a potential criminal.

"It's racist," Robles said. "They're trying to put Mexicans out of work. We need to work in order to feed our families, and we need jobs in order to work. We're not here looking for a handout. We want to work."

Read that sign again. There is absolutely nothing on that sign that refers to a person's race in any way. It refers to their legal status, not their skin color. This is just the typical attitude among the crowd that thinks strong immigrations enforcement is wrong. They're trying to harness the stigma of racism to do the work their rational argumentation can't perform. But they can't even hold it together long enough to be consistent within their own platitudes. Check out this comment from the same story:

:::::::: "This is an issue with a long history," said Tom Wilson, co-executive director of the Canal Alliance, an agency that provides assistance to local laborers.

Wilson said he has already received about a dozen complaints about the U-Haul company's sign.

"The tack they're taking is a particularly troubling one," Wilson said. "They're painting illegal day workers as criminals, making generalizations about a group of people."

I've highlit the sentence that just boggles the mind. The implication that someone is being unfair by suggesting that someone who broke our immigration laws and illegally crossed our borders is a criminal is just plain nuts. But it puts the attitude of people like Mr. Wilson, here, front and center in the spotlight. Wilson doesn't consider our immigration laws to be of any importance at all. If someone casually breaks them, it's no big deal and that person should suffer no repercussion over it.

I believe the sign is a reasonable warning to people that hire these illegals that they do so at their own risk. If the people like Wilson and Robles don't like that, then they should be making sure that all of their friends who need the work are legals and can prove it.