The illegal immigration plot thickens as an increasing number of prominent members of the political and media establishment have questions raised about their possible indirect or direct employment of undocumented workers.
During an interview on Meet The Press on Sept. 19, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said a path to legal status should be offered to illegal immigrants because they “are doing things we need done in this country.”
But he also added: “They’re all over my house, doing things whenever I call for repairs, and I’m sure you’ve seen them at your house.”
This caused a flurry of complaints and Powell quickly retreated and offered a further explanation the next day.
“I don’t hire illegal immigrants,” Powell said in a statement. “On Meet the Press yesterday, I referred to illegal immigrants working around my house. I was referring to the many service contractors who work in my neighborhood, using mostly immigrant workers, who do good work. Some may well be ‘illegal.’ There are 11 million illegal immigrants in this country and most are working somewhere in our economy.”
Meanwhile, Meg Whitman, the GOP candidate for governor of California, has been entangled in an immigration controversy stemming from allegations she knowingly employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper. She has denied the charge, but the housekeeper has stepped forward to keep the issue on the front burner.
California, a state with a huge number of immigrants, both legal and illegal, has seen its share of politicians facing charges of hiring illegal workers. Arianna Huffington, now best known as a founder of huffingtonpost.com and the author of books such as Third World America, hurt her then-husband Michael Huffington’s 1994 campaign for U.S. Senate in California, when she admitted she had hired an illegal immigrant nanny. And Governor Pete Wilson secured his re-election in 1994 by backing Proposition 187, the anti-illegal immigration ballot measure. Yet he was accused of employing a Mexican woman (believed to be undocumented) while he served as mayor of San Diego.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner almost saw his nomination for the cabinet post derailed after it was revealed he had employed an immigrant housekeeper whose employment authorization document had expired, as reported by CNN.
Lou Dobbs has joined the growing list.
In an investigative report that was posted online at thenation.com on Oct. 7, author Isabel MacDonald claimed that “while he (Dobbs) railed against ‘illegals,’ undocumented immigrants tended to his estates and prize horses.”
In several TV appearances, including on Good Morning America, Dobbs denied the allegation. “I never, ever used a contractor as a way in which to indirectly hire an illegal immigrant purposefully. Never, never, never,” said Dobbs, an ardent opponent of both illegal immigration and employers who hire undocumented workers.
Other prominent names that have had problems with charges of hiring illegal immigrants or failing to pay employment taxes for hired help include Linda Chavez (nominated for Secretary of Labor by President George W. Bush); Bernard Kerik (nominated to head up the Department of Homeland Security by President Bush; Jim Gibbons (governor of Nevada accused of hiring an illegal immigrant from Peru as a housekeeper and nanny back in 2006); Zoe Baird (nominated by President Bill Clinton to be U.S. Attorney General) and Kimba Wood (Clinton’s choice for a federal judgeship).
The people involved in these immigration ordeals are both Democrats and Republicans, and are liberals, moderates and conservatives. The common element is that they are all well-to-do and are looking to hire help to serve as nannies, landscapers, roof repairers, etc. The illegal immigrant is usually a reliable worker who can be paid dirt wages and will receive no benefits. Because they have no rights, undocumented workers cannot complain about their working conditions and are compelled to work long hours under brutal conditions. The elite governing class of the nation and those having a loud voice in the media are often the very ones providing the magnet for illegal immigration because they are the ones hiring the immigrants or hiring contractors who have hired illegal immigrants. CEOs who run meatpacking plants, construction companies, hotels and restaurants, etc., are also guilty of enabling illegal immigrations by providing employment to millions of illegal workers.
The shortsightedness of the ruling class will lead to tragic consequences for the nation. An individual employer gets the grounds to his home manicured or a child looked after, and the Corporate Power gets to maximize its profits, but what happens when the undocumented worker starts a family and has kids ready to go to school or who need to see a doctor? After the crops are brought in, it is not enough to say, “You have done your duty; you may go home.”
Legal workers in the U.S., both citizens and immigrants who are legal residents, are the ones most hurt by the exploitation of undocumented workers. Wherever illegal immigrants are employed in large numbers, from landscaping to construction to the hospitality industries, the competition the undocumented workers provide has to drive down the wages for everyone. The middle class is shrinking in no small part because of the importation of millions of undocumented workers at the same time millions of jobs are being outsourced and relocated overseas.
The corporate heads and ruling class of the country are talking out of both sides of their mouths. They pretend to want to restrict illegal immigration but secretly view it as a great benefit and don’t really want to address the issue. That is why the problem persists. In the meantime the American worker who is not benefiting at all from illegal immigration has no real voice or champion speaking for him. Politicians pay lip service to illegal immigration but have no intention of ever really doing anything about it.