Illegal immigration – there’s a thought-provoking subject. And the Gulf oil spill, even more so.
Both provoke me to think that the federal government – as it is haphazardly stitched together – would have trouble organizing and policing a two-car funeral.
Concerning immigration, it has been apparent for decades (except perhaps for the most deeply brain-damaged among us) that the federal bureau of that name, and its policies, are one of history’s great disasters. Ten to 12 million illegal aliens among us stand as proof. Despite this, the Obama administration still insists on command of the problem, threatening lawsuits to states like Arizona which organize minimal defenses against the horde of Mexicans flooding across its borders.
It is cosmic foul-ups like this which have caused me to desert our daily newspaper’s comic pages and seek my biggest laughs from the news columns. And it gets even better.
Even when Obama latches onto a good idea he manages to screw it up through the complexity, dogma, and idiocy of his own administrators. One such bright idea is the current crackdown on businesses and farms hiring illegal aliens. Fair enough. It is considerably more than George Bush did in office, and if pursued with the requisite vigor it might solve the problem once and for all.
Enter the Department of Homeland Security which has begun auditing records of companies suspected of hiring wetbacks. This agency, which was founded to protect us from Islamic madmen, is turning its artillery on industrious Catholics hailing from south of the border. Its legal underpinning is the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 which prohibits employers from hiring illegal immigrants. Key part of the law compels employers to demand documents from prospective workers to establish their identities and nationalities. Documents might be driver’s licenses, social security cards, birth certificates, voter registration cards, passports, state and local IDs, school card with photo, or cards issued by federal, state and local entities.
Enter the Department of Justice, operating under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which guarantees that “all individuals authorized to work in the U.S. have the right to seek employment without the added burden of special rules or document demands based on their citizenship status or national origin.” That’s cute, isn’t it? That part of the law might have been written by the illegals themselves. If employers ask applicants for too many documents they risk the wrath of Justice.
And this is no moot or theoretical legal point. Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, says his department is gearing up to enforce the INA provisions. In fact Justice Department has gone on a hiring spree aimed at increasing by 25 percent the number of lawyers and investigators to probe INA violations.
Companies face a maximum civil penalty of $1,100 for each person compelled to produce “too many” documents. Garland Sales Inc., a rug manufacturer in Dalton, Ga., decided an applicant needed more than a driver’s license and a social security card to be hired. One is easily procured and the other often counterfeited. The applicant had suspiciously limited language skills, so when he could not produce a green card they cancelled his job offer. Down comes the Justice Department and Garland Sales is locked in a lawsuit.
The Portland, Ore., outlet of Morton’s Restaurant Group, Inc. made a serious mistake when it asked two non-citizen applicants for more documentation than their social security cards. After working a time both were fired until the company could review their documentation. To the rescue comes the Justice Department, which ruled that Morton’s had hired other workers on the strength of their social security cards.
In a settlement Morton’s agreed to provide back pay of $2,880 and $5,715.62, plus a civil penalty of $2,200, and to train its workers in “federal protections for workers against citizenship-status and national-origin discrimination.”
I had to laugh. It was too delicious. When Justice finally gets the social security card established as the only needful employment document, coyote flesh-smugglers will be in paradise. They will set up a big printing operation grinding out fake cards, and poof! There goes the Obama immigration crackdown. Of course, that might be the president’s real objective: make the yokels believe in your illegal alien reform, while admitting more millions of wetbacks to vote for you in future elections.
Let’s see: If you ask for no documents from a suspicious applicant, Homeland Security cracks down on you. If you ask for too many (and how much is too many?) then Justice Department is on your tail. Suppose the employer wants to chuck the whole business and not hire anyone remotely resembling an illegal alien. Well, that’s a fast track to suicide. There are all sorts of equal opportunity bureaucrats infesting the federal government, armed with platoons of attack lawyers.
Is this “Mission Impossible” scenario beginning to remind you of the famous novel, Catch-22, which celebrated paradoxical military logic thusly: The bomber pilot is flying regular combat missions, which proves he is crazy. But if he asks to be relieved, this proves he is sane. So, he will have to keep flying missions.
Stars of the BP Gulf oil eruption were two eminent bureaucracies, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. The F&WS claims suzerainty over all the nation’s non-human life forms outside of zoos, homes, and pet shops. EPA demands obeisance in the matter of substances which might enter our ears, eyes, mouths, and noses, or assault us via temperature, sound, radiation, and vibration. One fancies their bureaucratic fiefdom may someday expand until they are in charge of all perilous particles entering from outer space, including asteroids.
As the British Petroleum crisis droned on, workers fighting the eruption began using chemical dispersants to scatter oil sheens above and below the Gulf’s surface. Stop, demanded the EPA: dispersants used weren’t up to agency safety standards. Work had to be halted until better chemicals were found. In Louisiana the Fish and Wildlife commandos blew the whistle on workers pumping sand from a wetlands to form a berm blocking oncoming oil. It might endanger swamp creatures, ruled the F&WS.
Another victim of federal fumbling was Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama who had been promised a blocking boom to secure the mouth of Mobile Bay. It was shipped instead to Louisiana where great minds judged the danger to be more dire.