Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Virginia pols introduce bills to handle illegal aliens

This AP article talks about the increasing effort in Virginia to deal with the problem of illegal immigrants. Like most AP articles, however, it's got the normal lean to the leftward perspective on the matter.

First, let me say that it's a good thing that this issue is getting some press. It is a major problem and it's feeding into our gang problem as well. The MS-13 gang draws its strength from illegals in this country and evidence is there that they're actually taking an active role in getting more illegals into this country specifically to join their ranks. So it's not just an annoyance as some would paint the issue. By the same token, it's important that any actions we take be justified, well researched, and consistent. Virginians need to be well informed and need to understand the directions being taken in the effort to correct the situation that illegal entry into the country has created. We can't have such citizens if we don't talk about it and that means focusing on it more in the media that people use to stay informed.

I do have an issue with the way the debate is being framed. Part of that is best demonstrated with this paragraph from the story I've linked:

::::::::Dozens of Herndon and Loudoun County residents, frightened and frustrated by a heavy immigrant influx in their communities and day-laborer centers established to help them find work, fanned out across Capitol Square Tuesday vouching for the bills.::::::::

This is the typical method of over-inclusion used by the so-called "immigrants rights" groups. The residents of Loudoun County and Fairfax aren't "frightened and frustrated" by immigrants coming here legally. Anyone who has entered this country in accordance with our immigrations laws and who commits to living by our laws is welcome here. Yes, that includes day-laborers and those people who immigrate here legally will have no problems with the residents here in using the kind of center opened in Herndon for finding work. My problem with the preceding paragraph is the use of the term "immigrant" to include illegal aliens. This blurring of a very significant difference is the factor in making discussion of immigration and border security so fractious.

The bills being introduced are attempts to allow some common-sense efforts at actually enforcing our exist law. I've written before about the problem local law enforcement has in dealing with immigrations. The sad fact is that the law often does not allow them to even arrest someone they know for certain is here illegally unless that person has also committed some other crime. One of the bills being introduced would correct that oversight. Another one required juvenile officers to notify federal authorities when they arrest a juvie who turns out to be an illegal alien. Again, you'd think that was already the case, but it's not. That's a hole in our enforcement that needs to be plugged.

One of the bills requires employers to verify the legal residency of a person seeking employment. Forgive me on this one, but do we not already require that? The US Citizen and Immigrations Services Form I-9 is a requirement that, I personally, have had to comply with for every job I've held for the past several years. That form is supposed to verify that I'm here legally. Can I spoof that form by providing fake documentation? Sure. That's a problem with our documentation, not with the law. If employers are already doing this, why do we need another bill?

The short answer is that this is a State statute where the I-9 is federal. I've not actually read the bill, yet, but perhaps there's a good reason for us to have both. It could be an enforcement jurisdiction issue that's being clarified and, if so, that's good. In any case, requiring employers to verify eligibility is a positive step.

The last bill discussed in the story is one that addresses a situation arroused by the opening of a day-laborer center in Herndon, VA. This site is designed to be a focus point for day-laborers to come to look for work. Employers needing day laborers can also avoid trolling several unofficial sites - a 7-11 in Herndon was one of them - and simply go to the Center to pick up laborers. As a general idea, this is fine. In fact, I support such initiatives. Where this particular center is falling down is in their steadfast refusal to require laborers using their services to verify their legal status. The bill being introduced would prohibit the use of public funds in any such center that doesn't do this kind of verification. While I'm sure the people running this center and the so-called "immigrants rights" groups don't like this bill, I can't see their justification that they shouldn't do the verification and yet local citizens still have to pay for their operations. The bill's not a requirement that they do the verification. It's just setting that as a condition of getting public money. This, of course, leads to accusations of racism.

Which leads us to the other part of the framing of this discussion that ticks me off. The story quotes Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, a lobbyist and advocate for Hispanic and immigrant groups. She says:

::::::::"You can't talk about this problem without realizing there is a racial or ethnic issue here."::::::::

Oh, no? Where in any of this discussion did reference get made to anyone's race or ethnicity? At no time did I or anyone involved in submitting these bills narrow the focus from "illegal aliens" to "illegal Hispanic aliens." In fact, the only group of people who seem unable to talk about this problem without making it a racism issue are the lobbyists and advocates for specific "immigrant" groups. The laws being proposed would apply to any illegal alien and any user of a day-laborers center. That, by definition, removes race as a consideration. Unless, of course, someone's suggesting that a given race or ethnicity offers an insight into who might have a greater probability of being an illegal alien? These laws certainly don't. How about you lobbyists and advocates?

There is 1 bit of new material in this story and that's the suggestion that illegal aliens wouldn't have come here illegally if our government had been more responsive.

::::::::Opponents of the bills say they unfairly target many earnest immigrants in Virginia who have tried to abide by the law only fall victim to an unresponsive federal immigration bureaucracy. ::::::::

Again, I must say it: if they're here illegally, they are not "earnest immigrants." They are illegal aliens. Period. Whether they would like to be legal immigrants or not is beside the point. When decision time came to answer the question of whether to follow the law or break it, they went with "break it." Not a very good position of authority on being law-abiding, I'm afraid.

Now, it's possible that people have been caught in the glacial pace of federal bureacracy. That's happened in plenty of other federal agencies, so it's no stretch to think that it might be happening here. There's going to have to be a lot more information on that to rise above the level of "anecdote" and, if some lobbyist or advocate has more, they should tell the tale. Regardless, it's not a justification to stop enforcement of our immigrations laws as a whole. Problems with the bureacracy should be handled, no question, but the fact that there are problems doesn't make every illegal alien a victim.

(Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the open link.)