FrontPageMag | Jamie Glazov | Sept. 25, 2008
Steinlight: The raid [in Iowa] demonstrates that massive immigration by the uneducated, unskilled and impoverished to a knowledge-based, largely post-industrial America is joined at the hip to exploitation. If one supports massive immigration – currently at the highest level in all of American history with the immigrants, legal and illegal, comprised predominantly of unskilled, uneducated and impoverished Hispanics – one must be prepared to countenance their exploitation and be complicit, knowingly or unwittingly, in permitting whole sectors of corporate America to return to the moral universe of unfettered capitalism portrayed in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Neither wholesale violation of the rule of law by illegal aliens nor their brutal exploitation ought to be matters that divide the Left from the Right in America.
Frontpage interview’s guest today is Dr. Stephen Steinlight, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies.
FP: Dr. Stephen Steinlight, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Steinlight: Thank you, Jamie. As a regular reader who continually gains important insights from writers for FrontPageMagazine, it’s an honor to be here.
FP: Last May, 2008, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) raided the AgriProcessors meat processing plant in Postville, Iowa. Tell us what it was about exactly.
Steinlight: Until an even bigger raid last month, the raid at the AgriProcessors meat processing plant briefly held the dubious distinction of being the largest immigration workplace enforcement action in US history, with 389 arrests of illegal aliens. Like several other large-scale ICE raids, the action in Iowa uncovered grotesque exploitation of illegal workers.
FP: The significance?
Steinlight: Most significant about the Iowa raid is that it has culminated in criminal charges against the owners and managers of the plant, and not solely against their miserable helots. The Attorney General of the State of Iowa has indicted the company, its owners and managers on 9,311 counts of violating state laws against child labor as well as conspiring in hiring illegal aliens, including providing them forged Green Cards and other false documentation. Such scurrilous employers are the magnets and enablers that bring illegal labor to this country and have infinitely more moral agency than their workers. The Attorney General’s action is an all-too-rare example of justice and sound social policy.
FP: What was the lib-Left’s response to the raid? What did that response reflect?
Steinlight: Predictably, it was righteously indignant but uninformed, “post-American” in its indifference to the well being of the nation and its citizens, selective in its moral outrage, and repugnant in its attack on law enforcement. As a matter of “policy,” the lib-Left’s sole recommendation is legalizing the arrested illegal workers, part of their larger campaign for amnesty for all illegal aliens in America and passage of the legislation that would grant it as well as double legal immigration: “comprehensive immigration reform.”
Every prescription from the lib-Lefts’s open-borders camp (and let us be honest: it has many prominent conservative fellow travelers, among them John McCain, Grover Norquist and most libertarians) is a variant on the mantra about “bringing them out of the shadows.” Policy-savvy advocates recognize it’s a sham solution and mouth the slogan to pander to Hispanic voters while rewarding cronies with cheap labor. They know the poverty that causes illegal aliens to work for ruthless exploiters is the product of their lack of education, not legal status. Fully 62% of Mexicans and Central Americans who reside in the US lack a high school diploma: that’s true of only 8% of American workers.
Perhaps worst of all, the open-borders camp has also determined to make a new PR strategy of vilifying ICE agents; even some members of Congress have engaged in the morally disgusting act of equating ICE agents with the Gestapo.
FP: What did the raid say about the more muscular immigration enforcement we’ve been witnessing within the last year?
Steinlight: Whatever the administration’s genuine motivations, there has been far more robust internal enforcement of immigration law in the past year than in all George Bush’s presidency. This takes the form of large-scale ICE raids, amending or abandoning statutes hindering cooperation between local police and federal immigration agents in many jurisdictions, and the hundreds of ordinances designed to see the lives of illegal aliens are not regularized and promote their removal adopted by states, counties and municipalities after immigration policy effectively devolved upon them in the wake of the June 28, 2007, defeat of S.1639, the latest incarnation of “comprehensive immigration reform.”
Hard evidence confirms robust enforcement works. An important recent study by my think tank, the Center for Immigration Studies, titled “Homeward Bound: Recent Immigration Enforcement and the Decline in the Illegal Alien Population” provides a wealth of data supporting this claim. After peaking in August 2007, the illegal population has fallen from 12.5 million to 11.2 million, or 11%, through May of 2008. The decline – a product of self-deportation from an increasingly inhospitable environment – exceeds by a factor of 7 the number of illegal aliens deported by the government. While the downturn in the economy, particularly in construction, accounts for a fraction of the departures, significant self-removal began before the onset of the current recession. Over the same period, legal immigration has remained constant. It’s also worth noting that the decline began shortly after the defeat of S.1639, a bill whose victory was widely anticipated and whose progress was closely followed in the immigrant and immigrant-advocacy community. The report concludes that if the present decline were to continue, the illegal population would be cut in half within the next five years.
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