Opinion: Navarrette: Silent immigration reform
The Obama administration thinks it has discovered a kinder and gentler way to remove illegal immigrants from the workplace. Instead of rounding them up, the administration simply frightens employers into firing them.Problem solved. Or is it? Conservatives think the exercise is pointless because illegal workers who have been dismissed simply move on and take other jobs down the road. Liberals are just as upset because they consider the government-applied pressure heavy-handed and say that unemployed workers can't provide for their families. Civil libertarians insist that, as word spreads, employers might eventually not hire anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant, which could lead to discrimination against Hispanics. And business groups are likewise incensed because the government is leaving them with a worker shortage and a raft of jobs that Americans won't do.
Near the top of that list, you'll find agricultural jobs. Federal labor officials estimate that more than 60 percent of farmworkers in the United States are illegal immigrants.
Trying to drive home a point, the United Farm Workers of America — with the help of comedian Stephen Colbert — are inviting unemployed Americans and anti-immigrant pundits to put up or shut up. They suggest taking jobs away from farmworkers. Interested parties are urged to apply for the thousands of agricultural jobs being posted with state agencies as harvest season begins.
Assomeone who grew up in Central California, and who spent my first summer home from college lugging 35-pound boxes of plums and nectarines in an outdoor packing house, I love the UFW campaign. Too many Americans are so far removed from their agrarian roots that they've convinced themselves that the reason young people aren't out picking asparagus is because the wages are low rather than because the work is backbreaking. This experiment will clear up the confusion.
Meanwhile, immigrant rights groups have been privately complaining that President Obama spent the first 18 months of his presidency mimicking workplace raids conducted under George W. Bush.
According to the New York Times, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has levied a record $3 million in civil fines on businesses that hired unauthorized immigrants. As a result, thousands of workers have been fired, immigrant groups say
Naturally, the workers are upset because they got fired and may not find other employment. But these people broke the law and shouldn't be here in the first place, so it's especially galling for them to somehow believe they're entitled to a job.
We don't need to hear that nonsense from foreign workers. We already hear enough of it from the native-born — which, by the way, is how we wound up with so many foreign workers.
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