Monday, May 30

A HISPANIC OFFICIAL FIGHTS THE TIDE OF ILLEGAL ALIENS

There's a refreshing story this weekend (not too many stories like this one are found in the mainstream media) about a Mexican-American, Republican county commissioner in Canyon County, Idaho, who "has been on a crusade against illegal immigration," terming it an "imminent invasion" from Mexico. There's no surprise in this really. There are legions of patriotic Mexican-Americans -- proud members of the legal Latino community in this country and, to be sure, fine citizens -- who oppose this nation's immigration policies and its porous borders. Their voices just do not get heard often enough in the MSM and their voices are often lost amid the hue and cry of "racism" from powerful interest groups operating in this country who want the United States of America to become "La Republica del Norte" and the flag of Mexico to fly in our public squares.

The irony for me is in finding this story in none other than the "New York Times" (registration required for online edition). Now this is what I call progress.

The NYT's Timothy Egan writes of Mr. Robert Vasquez's efforts:

Mr. Vasquez has tried to have Canyon County declared a disaster area because of the strain from illegal immigrants. He has also sent a bill to the Mexican government for more than $2 million; that is the cost, he said, of Mexicans who are in the county illegally.

Mr. Vasquez says the newcomers overwhelm public services, bring gang violence and drugs, spread diseases like tuberculosis and insist on rights that should not be granted to noncitizens.

His latest salvo, a plan to sue employers who hire illegal immigrants, has angered the solidly Republican business community and many of the senior political leaders in this heavily Republican state. The plan would make Canyon County the only local government in the country to use federal racketeering statutes against people who employ illegal immigrants, said Howard Foster, a Chicago lawyer advising the county.


Maybe the "New York Times" is all over this story because it portrays the Republican Party and many Republican business leaders as complicitous in this nation's illegal immigration problems and resistant to much-needed solutions; and, at least from the perspective of what Mr. Vasquez is doing, the story implies (and correctly so) that the Bush Administration is doing harm to the legitimate interests of the legal Latino community -- a community in which the GOP is trying to cultivate votes -- in pandering to the corrupt Mexican government and its el presidente, Vicente Fox.

Whether or not there's a "Gray Lady" agenda at work here, I applaud its editors for going with the story. It needs telling. This is the one major issue in this country in which the Republican Party and many of its members are as much the issue as is the Democratic Party and much of its membership. Those who complain that the two political parties in this country have grown too much alike can find the underpinnings for their argument in the illegal immigration problem.

Mr. Vasquez knows what drives this runaway problem in the United States and it is not an overweening concern for the plight of poor Mexican nationals. It's all about dollars: huge remittances (in the billions annually) to Mexico; and cheap labor (profits) and plentiful votes here in this country.

The struggle here is contained to Canyon County, west of Boise with a population of 151,000. But it is part of a broader clash taking place across the country in the Republican Party; President Bush is pushing a guest worker program for illegal immigrants, while other Republicans are supporting private efforts to patrol the border and calling for additional muscle to seal it off.

Mr. Vasquez says it is a fight the party needs to have. "Some people say I'm a racist, that I'm a traitor to my heritage," he said. "There is nothing racial about this. The only color involved is green - for money."

With both parties trying to court Hispanic voters, politicians who have jumped into the immigration debate, like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, have found the issue to be perilous. Mr. Schwarzenegger was criticized by many Latinos after he praised a group of citizens patrolling the border.

Many farmers and construction contractors here say they could not survive without the pool of workers from Mexico. They have lined up behind a proposal by the state's senior senator, Larry E. Craig, a Republican, to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country under certain conditions, a variation of a similar plan offered by President Bush.