Skip to main content
Immigration reform protest in Tallahassee last month. Note use of "anti-immigrant" when the issue is "illegal immigrant," and the use of children.
Sarasota Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2011 6 years ago

MY VIEW: Needed: immigration principles

by: Rod Thomson

The Legislature defeated a simple immigration enforcement bill in May that was hardly comprehensive, revealing a fatal weakness of principle and reality on the part of many Republicans in the Legislature.

The bill would have used the federal government’s E-Verify to ensure the legal status of any candidate for state employment. A  fine would have been levied on employers found to have hired an illegal alien. And the legal status of anyone arrested by law enforcement would be checked.

The original idea was to have an Arizona-style law making it a crime for someone here illegally to work, penalize employers who hire them and make local authorities turn them over to the feds — not that the feds would do anything with them. These are nothing more radical than steps to enforce the federal immigration laws that a Congress passed, but captivated by special interests, won’t enforce.

The Florida immigration bill that was defeated was significantly weaker than the Arizona law.

However, Georgia passed a law similar to Arizona’s during its legislative session and it is a bit mysterious that a Florida legislature dominated by Republican senators who supposedly believe in the rule of law voted it down by a substantial margin.

The bill’s rules were completely reasonable for making sure that people are not here illegally, having broken into the country and taking jobs without paying payroll taxes. Unfortunately, the Senate debate devolved into an emotional game with contestants trying to outdo each other in how deeply they feel about the importance of “our nation’s roots in immigration.”

Oh for Pete’s sake. How many times does this canard have to be corrected? Those roots are in legal immigration. That whole Ellis Island thing? They were coming from Ireland, Germany, Poland and so on…legally.

Legal. Illegal. Different. Opposites. Got it?

A Palm Beach protestor in Tallahassee during the session, identified by the St. Petersburg Times as Saul Lopez, said, “This bill threatens our rights.” By enforcing federal law? Neither Lopez or anyone else has any “rights” to be in this country illegally. If he is here legally, then nothing is threatened.

But if he is here illegally, he is not the same as others who have been waiting to immigrate legally, instead of hopping the border in the dead of night. He is not the type of immigrant on which the country was built, because he is here illegally, unlawfully, criminally. He has no rights on this issue. U.S. citizens have the rights, in cases such as these, primarily to rid the country of lawbreakers.

There are two simple prongs at work here. One is in principle. One is in reality.

First, principle. People sneaking into our country without applying and following the rules is like being in a long grocery line at the checkout counter. You’re waiting patiently with others when a guy takes cuts at the very front, pushing his way into first spot at the counter and gets his groceries without waiting. Oh, and he does not have to pay taxes on his purchases — illegal aliens generally do not pay federal income, Social Security or Medicare taxes. But you, following the rules, wait in line and when your turn finally comes, you have to pay taxes, too.

That’s the principle. It’s wrong to take cuts. How hard is this to understand?

And then there is the reality. We need to know who is in our state and in our country. As it is now, Osama bin Laden could have come in across the Mexican border and we probably would not have known it. Maybe he could have hidden better picking Florida tomatoes than hiding in Pakistan.

We are completely in favor of letting in Hispanics and any others from any countries as long as they follow the rules. But another canard is that wanting those rules followed is racist. As usual, more nonsense. Let them in, as long as they follow the rules and a good percentage arriving come with an education. Please, come and add your value to the melting pot of America.

Our domestic birthrate shows the importance of immigration for us. But we are deluded if we think we can take all of those who cannot make it in their third-world countries. We can take a few, if we take those who can contribute more, too, and require everyone to learn English and our history. It’s our nation’s history and if they want to be part of this nation, they should know it.

Right now, we don’t do any of that, and we are poorer, deeper in debt and more vulnerable for it.

This reform needs to happen next year. It should not be hard. Gov. Rick Scott is onboard with an Arizona-style law. The Republicans running the Legislature need to get their act together and stop kowtowing to a damaging and short-sighted alliance of agri-business interests and open-borders liberals.

As Scott said after the session, there is always next year.

As long as the Legislature does not become the Chicago Cubs on the issue of “next year.”

Rod Thomson
is editorial pages editor of the Observers and can be reached at
[email protected].

Related Stories