Tuesday, October 25


Frank Laughter of Common Sense Junction should be commended for this brave post, in which he looks at the other side of the ledger of the root causes of the illegal alien crisis afflicting America and rightly takes employers of illegals to task for ensnaring them in what he describes is tantamount to a rebirth of an American slave trade. For an example of this kind of exploitation, he points to the tragic bus conflagration (on which I have also posted) just south of Dallas during the Hurricane Rita evacuation from Houston that took the lives of twenty-three nursing home residents aboard that bus.

While Frank is anything but sympathetic to the lawlessness of border jumping or a rank apologist for open borders, he does condemn the enablers -- the employers who knowingly put illegal aliens to work, paying them cut-rate wages and taking advantage of them at every turn. And he doesn't abide a federal government that is as complicit as the employers who break the law. Much as there would not be drug smuggling into the United States of the scale we see were there not a strong, home-grown demand for illicit drugs, illegal aliens would not number 11+ million today and with as many as 10,000/day breeching our borders were it not for the fact that there's a ready market here for their so-called "cheap labor." The federal government purposefully permits porous borders and seldom cites companies who knowingly hire (forgive the term) "undocumented workers" -- workers who commit a misdemeanor on their first border-jumping episode and who, if deported, become felons on their second illegal entry into the United States -- because it accomplishes two strategems in doing so: it secures a burgeoning Latino voter base and ensures continued political funding from those manufacturing, construction, and agricultural employers who wittingly break the law to keep their direct labor and net operating costs low.

So while Frank doesn't think the driver of the bus, illegal alien Juan Robles Gutierrez, had any business being in Texas in the first place, he rightly charges Juan's employer, Global Limo of Pharr, Texas, with not only breaking the law in hiring Sr. Gutierrez, but in keeping him and other illegals on the bus company's premises in a kind of a factory-town servitude and withholding wages due them to maintain a sinister control. And he questions why the MSM isn't all over this tragedy and its antecedents, and whether the bus driver, who has been arrested and charged with 23 counts of negligent homicide, is getting a fair shake or becoming in the process the fall guy for a tragedy born of negligent border control, misguided immigration laws, illegal employment, and a sinister, "cheap labor"-fueled slave trade.

In this morning's edition of the Houston Chronicle (registration required for online edition), reporter Terri Langford returns to the story of the bus inferno and writes (excerpts follow):

When Dallas County authorities charged a 37-year-old illegal Mexican immigrant in the deaths of 23 elderly bus passengers, they said it was because a bus driver has the same safety responsibilities as a commercial airline pilot.

"The legal responsibility is the same," Dallas County Sgt. Don Peritz said last week, explaining why Global Limo driver Juan Robles Gutierrez was charged with negligent homicide in the Sept. 23 bus fire that killed the Brighton Gardens nursing home residents just south of Dallas.

Peritz is correct. Federal regulations dictate that before Robles set foot inside the 1998 MCI luxury bus hired by the Bellaire senior living facility last month, he would have had to have conducted a "walk-around" inspection of the bus to look for any problems. Commercial pilots perform the same task routinely, before they board any plane.

"If he fails to do the inspection, that's a problem. If he does the inspection improperly, that's a problem," Peritz said, elaborating on why detectives filed charges against the Mexican national on Oct. 17. "The pilot of that plane and the driver of that bus have the same responsibility."

A closer look, however, reveals that drivers and pilots and the industries they work for couldn't be more different when it comes to safety. Many charter bus companies are small outfits performing without the benefit of secure, weatherproof depots, a highly skilled union mechanics force or regular inspections and required retraining for their operators.

She continues:

In the case involving the Global Limo bus, federal and local investigators are focusing on the axles, brakes and bearings near the right rear wheel. A right rear tire was changed 26 miles before the fire.

After the fire, it was discovered that Global had one of the worst driver safety histories in the nation, yet the company was given a "satisfactory" rating by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

And in the case involving Robles, Global Limo and Brighton Gardens, there's the added dimension of an illegal immigrant driving the bus at the time of the accident. Although Mexicans with commercial driving licenses can drive in the United States, Robles did not have the proper documents to live and work in the United States.

Robles' family members in Monterrey, Mexico, have readily admitted he was in this country illegally. Still Robles was hired by Global Limo, the Pharr, Texas, company whose officials have declined to comment on the situation.

"The problems that caused this disaster were poor training, bad maintenance, the possibility of defective equipment," said Robert Luke, one of several lawyers now suing Robles, Global, Brighton Gardens and the charter broker, The Bus Bank, on behalf of those killed and injured. "We can't expect an illegal immigrant to stand up to his employers over whom he has no leverage and report it to the authorities who he will fear will deport him."

And that's precisely Frank Laughter's point, I believe, and why his broader condemnation of America as a magnet for "cheap labor" should provoke outrage and reform. Indeed, I, too, wrote of the big picture dynamics in this recent post, in which I pointed to how disingenuous President Bush is being in his recent "tough talk" about securing our borders when at the same time he is opening up the floodgates for cheap, illegal immigrant labor to rebuild the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast. The president is sucking and blowing, talking "A" and doing "B." And we're on to him.

As I wrote:

The president is now and was as governor of Texas a long-standing proponent of "cheap labor"; and he remains to this day an inveterate apologist of open borders and amnesty and liberal Guest Worker programs. And he doesn't seem to care a wink -- even armed with that Harvard MBA of his -- that "cheap, undocumented, immigrant labor" is both euphemism and misnomer; and that, in point of fact, once you allocate back to those direct wages the huge costs born by American taxpayers for the broad social safety net provided illegals, then their wages aren't anywhere near so low and the upshot is that the president and Congress have taxpayers subsidizing labor costs for those companies knowingly hiring illegal aliens to lower their net operating costs.

So Juan Robles Gutierrez sits in a jail cell and Everardo Perez occupies a wheelchair. Neither should be in this country. Both are illegal aliens. The former committed a misdemeanor offense in jumping the border; the latter committed a felony offense in doing so a second time. But they are here, in part, because President Vicente Fox and the corrupt Mexican government encourage the abject poor of their country to emigrate illegally to the United States and are even complicit in maintaining "staging areas" at the border to assist the illegal border-jumpers; and they are here, in part, because President Bush (and President Clinton before him) and the Congress have done precious little to secure our southern border and to put an end to an invasion of staggering proportions, because they shamelessly covet votes, targeted political contributions, and the cheap, taxpayer-subsidized, illegal immigrant labor that, they believe, ensures a thriving economy.

So Frank Laughter is outraged -- outraged, to be sure, about 11+ million illegal aliens and the huge costs taxpayers bear for the broad social safety net required to buttress that population; but he's also enough of a man and human being to call this blight upon our country yet another form of man's inhumanity to man. He asks why the little guy is scapegoat and slave, while captains of industry and government wittingly lure him here without compunction or accountability. Frank makes it clear that those of us calling for tighter border security and comprehensive immigration reform are not heartless souls harboring no sympathies for the hapless. We simply want an end to the rank hypocrisy in Washington D.C. and in Mexico City and the seemingly unalterable notion that the American taxpayer can bear any burden and pay any price for America to be all things, to all people, from all lands.

Suggested Supplemental Reading: "Illegal Aliens -- America's New Slave Class" -- an essay by Frosty Wooldridge; Frosty Wooldridge Archives; Allan Wall's "An Open Letter To President Bush," published at VDARE; and this by Bryant Furlow on what he terms "an underlying global pathology."