Fixing a broken system
By Joan Vennochi, Globe Columnist March 11, 2007
THE LAW was enforced. For some, that alone justifies the outcome of the raid on a New Bedford company that knowingly hired illegal immigrants. The workers were rounded up and some were sent to Texas.
I say, current immigration law is an embarrassment to a country founded by immigrants. It is arbitrary, absurd, at times cruel and completely disconnected from the reality of immigrant labor in America. The law should be changed, but too many politicians in Washington lack the spine to change it.
Federal immigration authorities raided Michael Bianco Inc., a New Bedford manufacturer of luxury leather goods for companies like Coach Inc. The company also manufactures military backpacks, making it the beneficiary of an $82 million federal contract. Company owners were arrested, but allowed to go free until their next court date.
Meanwhile, 361 workers, most of them young and middle-aged Latino women, were detained. Some were flown to a Texas detention center, forced to leave behind children in Massachusetts.
Some were returned to Massachusetts for humanitarian reasons.
Tell me again how that result makes this country safer and stronger? It doesn't, unless some link between these workers and terrorists comes to light.
Sending home 12 million illegal immigrants is impossible. The reality is that illegal immigrants provide cheap labor for a wide range of businesses. As for taking jobs from Americans, White House adviser Karl Rove recently put that fear in perspective: "I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas," he said.
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts are expected to refile an immigration reform bill, perhaps this week. It will attempt to balance border surveillance and workplace enforcement with a plan to give millions of illegal immigrants a chance to work here legally. President Bush supports immigration reform, although he is hedging on whether people who come to the United States illegally should have a path to so-called amnesty.
The status quo is not a solution.
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