Sunday, November 21, 2010


The Sunday, November 21, Fresno Bee newspaper concluded a week-long series analyzing illegal immigration in the great San Joaquin Valley--the food basket of our country. Each segment of the series offers great insights into all aspects of the issue.

But today's Editorial in the Fresno Bee offers one of the clearest insights into the whole issue, and I reprint it here so that many more people can reflect upon it. I am pleased that the recommendations made in the Editorial track perfectly with the recommendations which the Catholic Church has been making on immigration reform for many years.

EDITORIAL: Sorting out hypocrisy on illegal immigration
If we are looking for villains, we should look in the mirror.

[Posted at 12:00 AM on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010]

Illegal immigration is a hot-button topic among politicians and voters, so you'd think the nation would have the political will to fix its broken immigration system. But the dirty little secret is that too many of us benefit from illegal immigration to do something about it.

A weeklong series in The Bee by Chris Collins exposed the widespread hypocrisy surrounding illegal immigration and the reasons that Democrats and Republicans refuse to act -- beyond the demagoguing of the issue at public appearances. Americans say they oppose illegal immigration, but have come to expect its advantages, including low grocery prices and cheap yardwork and housecleaning services.

In the San Joaquin Valley, our major industry relies heavily on the labor of illegal workers. What would happen to our multibillion-dollar agricultural industry -- the foundation of the region's economy -- if illegal immigration were stopped in its tracks?

The Bee series also pointed out that illegal immigrants don't just work in agriculture. They are in restaurants, hotels and construction. They supply cheap labor that keep our costs down when we buy meals or rent hotel rooms.

If we are looking for villains, we should look in the mirror.

This is a key passage in The Bee series: "Some experts predict that the system will always be broken because too many people don't want change -- even if they say they do. Farmers get cheap labor, illegal immigrants get jobs, consumers pay less for services. No one wants to make difficult reforms that would disrupt this balance."

It's easy for illegal immigrants to get forged documents, and many employers don't even use E-Verify, the online government program to check an employee's legal status. To add to the hypocrisy, Congress won't even agree to make E-Verify a permanent program.

It's no wonder that there's no political will to implement meaningful immigration reform. Some don't even want to acknowledge the problem, contending that the term "undocumented worker" would be more fair than "illegal immigrant." On the other hand, the silence is deafening from businesses that benefit from the illegal immigrants. That is, until they are faced with aggressive enforcement. Then the businesses cry loudly.

Unfortunately, racism, bigotry and hatred are at the heart of some critics of immigration. But let us not forget that if all American immigrants were to "go home," we would be left with only Native Americans.

It is not racist, however, to tell the truth, and it is a fact that these immigrants are here illegally. Glossing it over with politically correct terms like "undocumented worker" only further obscures the real issues. Additionally, the use of this unproductive politically correct terminology only further inflames the issue.

We have long supported a comprehensive immigration reform that deals with the major challenges. That reform should include:

Enhanced border security to limit the growth of illegal immigration. That would also make our nation safer from terrorists intent on doing damage to our country.

We need a fair guest-worker program that provides a reliable pool of workers to industries needing foreign laborers.

There also should be an opportunity for those already here illegally to earn legal residency if they meet strict requirements, including paying fines and showing they have had a responsible work history.

We also believe the DREAM Act is a fair method to give legal status to those who have earned that right, and then to eventually pursue citizenship if they desire.

President George W. Bush offered a wise immigration reform package in 2007. But it fell apart in the Senate when Republicans and Democrats blocked it. They didn't want to fix the broken system because both parties had constituencies that benefited from the status quo.

We could solve the illegal immigration problem. But as The Bee series pointed out over the past week, that would threaten a way of life that works for too many people and business interests in America.

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To access the entire series in the Fresno Bee, go to: