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The Wall Street Journal Is Worried.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page (Paul Gigot, understudy) is suspiciously furious with Chicago attorney Howard Foster for trying to enforce the law. We've chronicled the Edit Page's immigration enthusiasm for some time. Recently, it's been heating up again.
In the last few weeks the Edit Page has echo-chambered Tamar Jacoby's long but very mundane Commentary article (we'll analyze that soon) and run an editorial asking if the U.S. couldn't keep the illegals who "bus tables" while kicking out terrorists. On Thursday, it attacked Howard Foster because he has sued Tyson Foods for employing illegal immigrants, with sarcastic remarks about the Mexican chicken workers in "that notorious terror enclave of Shelbyville, Tennessee."
Well, there's more than one form of terror. Mass immigration not only provides a setting for terrorism to flourish in - it also leads to more ordinary crime. Look at the "busboy" example suggested by the Edit Page. I'm sorry if the Manhattan restaurants that Edit Pagers dine in find it hard to attract American busboys. But the fact is that a quick search on "busboy arrested" comes up with one of the three Hispanic killers of New Jersey millionaire Nelson Gross, and internet fraud artist Abraham Abdallah.
Below is the WSJ editorial, with my comments interpolated.
Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2002
Where there's a will, there's a way to sue in America. So it was probably inevitable that the anti-immigrant political right [Yawn, usual cheap smear. We're actually anti-immigration. There's a difference. But the WSJ Edit Page is manifestly part of the anti-American political right.] would join with the plaintiffs bar to achieve the crackdown that they haven't been able to get from Congress. [Actually, they did get it from Congress. See below.]
That's the gambit at work in the bizarre partnership between Chicago tort specialist Howard Foster and the Federation for American Immigration Reform. FAIR is the notoriously nativist outfit [interesting, usually the Edit Page claims FAIR is left-wing] that used TV spots in the 2000 election to link then-Senator (and current Energy Secretary) Spence Abraham to Osama bin Laden. [Needless to say, FAIR didn't say that Abraham was a bin Laden sympathizer - it said that his support for increased immigration, specifically H-1B visas, and his blocking of effective exit tracking, would make it easier for terrorists to sneak into the country. This was before 9/11.] The charge was preposterous, but FAIR figured it had license for the libel because Mr. Abraham favored more H-1b visas for immigrants working in high-tech fields. He's also, not coincidentally, a Lebanese American. [There's nothing coincidental about a Lebanese-American being elected from Michigan, which – thanks to immigration - has a large Arab population. The suggestion that a Michigan politician might be soft on terrorism is not surprising to me, considering David Bonior's activities, or the attitude of Cynthia McKinney, D-GA, whose campaign funds always receive a lot of Arab-American money. But what the WSJ Edit Page is suggesting here is that working against Abraham is racist. Bunk. Bin Laden was dangerous, and would have been even if it had been a Cabot or a Lowell who blocked the proposed exit-tracking system at the border.]
FAIR has been supporting Mr. Foster, [only with his first suit, but FAIR's a useful bogeyman] who recently filed his fourth anti-immigration class-action suit, this time against Tyson Foods, the big chicken company. What makes this suit more than the typical shakedown is that Mr. Foster has filed under RICO, the federal racketeering law designed to cope with mobsters and other hard cases. The burden of proof under RICO is high, but so is the payoff. A successful plaintiff wins treble damages, which would provide a boon to Mr. Foster and might also be large enough to seriously damage many businesses [i.e. make them pay more to American workers].
As Mike Hethmon, staff attorney for FAIR, told the Los Angeles Times, "That's enough to get any employer's attention. People hire illegal aliens not for ideological but financial reasons." In other words, FAIR hopes to use a legal-financial bludgeon against American business to achieve its political goal of shutting down immigration. That's a goal it's never been able to achieve through the ballot box, [Wrong. The "ballot box" - an elected Congress - is what made illegal immigration illegal, and it's also what passed RICO. In 1996, a Republican Congress added large-scale employment of illegal immigrants to list of RICO offenses, with the specific intent of enabling this kind of suit] but now is only too willing to pursue through a scorched-earth legal strategy.
The contradiction of principles here is breathtaking to behold. Conservatives are supposed to favor limited government, but some are only too happy to lower the RICO boom on $8-an-hour chicken workers. [No, on their criminal employers.] And they rail against excessive litigation, except when it can intimidate a business never to hire someone dark-skinned who might possibly have come from Mexico. [There is a civil rights bureaucracy which prosecutes companies that check their employees too closely, so they're being intimidated from both sides] As for the trial bar, its members advertise themselves as avatars of social justice, but in this case they're throwing anti-Mafia laws at Mexicans [Again, it's Tyson, which for all we know is owned by members of the Mayflower society, which is being sued. Foster isn't suing the Mexicans; they don't have any money. And an anti-crime law that would only affect the Mafia would be unconstitutional, as discriminating against Italian-Americans. RICO doesn't affect only Italian crime, or even violent crime, it affects organized crime. That's what Tyson is accused of; making huge amounts of money out of organized criminal activity] who've crossed the border to take jobs that Americans refuse to accept. [Refuse to accept at a given wage. That's the whole point. The US and Mexico have nearly the largest wage disparities of any two contiguous countries in the world. Plus many illegals don't pay income tax – and their employers don't pay benefits.]
"There are in excess of 10 million illegal workers in the United States," says Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. [Who was testifying on September 7th that "The foreign worker, both legal and illegal, has been an integral part of our inflation-free economic growth, and must be valued as a contributor to our strong economy." HINT: he represents employers, not workers.] "If tomorrow we sent them all home, this economy would stop. They're hard workers, they're important workers, and we need to find a way to make them legal workers." The Washington Post reports that "about 40% of the workers now rebuilding the Pentagon are Hispanic, most of them immigrants." A union official told the paper that construction "tends to be work, not unlike cleaning work or domestic work, that immigrants will take." [Joe Guzzardi just did a two-part series (1, 2) on what immigration has done to construction workers. Question: where are D.C.'s black construction workers?]
The Bush Administration is partly to blame here. The RICO suit against Tyson piggybacks on a Justice Department indictment of the company in December for allegedly smuggling Mexican workers to man its poultry plants. Justice is using its own financial bludgeon in the case, a "forfeiture" sanction normally reserved for drug cartels.
According to Tyson, the government offered to forgo the indictment for $100 million. Tyson balked and was subsequently indicted. If this scenario is true, it's a disturbingly broad and abusive application of forfeiture law. As the nation's largest meat company, Tyson employs 120,000 people at 130 sites in 35 states. Some 45,000 of those are Hispanic, yet the indictment names just 15 illegal hires. [How many times do you get to break the law? There's a limit to how many witnesses can be made to appear in court. Is the WSJ Edit Page seriously suggesting that out of 45,000 Hispanic workers, only 15 are illegal?] And the company was indicted despite cooperating with an INS test program to discover illegals. No wonder a federal judge recently threw out a similar case against Nebraska Beef.
Attorney General John Ashcroft needs to explain to his criminal division how its pursuit of a big payday is playing out in the real economy. [As opposed to Tyson's pursuit of a big dividend day?] The folks he might better worry about are the hijackers who entered the U.S. legally in the case of the September 11 attacks, not Mexicans working at chicken plants in that notorious terror enclave of Shelbyville, Tennessee.
Last Thursday Mr. Ashcroft ordered the FBI and INS, among other agencies, to begin sharing their databases and coordinating their efforts to fight terrorism. Information-sharing strikes us as exactly the right place to be concentrating federal resources. And it's certainly more sensible than using courts to shake down business for hiring diligent immigrants who help make our economy the envy of the world. [Gee, and we thought it was diligent Americans.]
April 18, 2002
[Final comment: After September 11th, when the M-1 student visa holders hit the Twin Towers, some immigration reformers were hopeful that America's immigration enthusiasts on Wall Street would see the light, just as in the 1920's after an anarchist bomb hit the House of Morgan at 23 Wall Street. But Norm Matloff knew better; he wrote us a letter pointing out that
The problem has been that the wishes of the populace have always been trumped by the special interests, such as: the ethnic-activist groups lobby, the educational lobby, the computer industry lobby, the manufacturing industry lobby, the farm lobby, the immigration lawyers' lobby, the libertarians (often funded by other lobbies), etc., etc., etc.,
You can add the Journal Edit Page to that list.
The reason Congress gives in to these lobbies, as fiscal conservatives should understand, is this: green cards buy votes but don't come out of the budget. It costs Congress nothing to amnesty a million illegals. The cost will show up, in crime rates, welfare rates, and political strife, down the road.
It's a classic case of the "preventable evil" that Enoch Powell spoke of in his epochal speech of April 20, 1968. Like him, we still find people mistaking
"predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: "if only", they love to think, "if only people wouldn't talk about it, it probably wouldn't happen". Perhaps this habit goes back to the primitive belief that the word and the thing, the name and the object, are identical."
I think the Editorial Page of the Journal is still a victim of this primitive belief. But maybe I'm being kind.
April 19, 2002