Monday, November 21


The print edition of this morning's Houston Chronicle (registration required for on-line edition) carries a front-page, below-the-fold story by Gebe Martinez that is headlined as an exposition of the intensifying debate on illegal immigration. That the adjective "illegal" was used to modify the noun "immigration" in the headline had me anticipating an objective, balanced, un-MSM-like article on the thorny issues of illegal immigration and border security; but, for the second consecutive day, first on the Sunday edition's Op-Ed pages and now on the front page of the Chronicle and in a straight news' piece no less, I was duped. Martinez's jaded reporting, to be sure, belongs on the Op-Ed page. And readers of ACSOL need to understand, to put in context what the Houston Chronicle is up to here, that between 350,000 and 400,000 "illegals" reside and work unfettered in America's 4th largest city and that Houston is a "Sanctuary City" and the Chronicle consistently supports that ill-advised policy.

The first line in the sand comes right out of the gate in Gebe Martinez's article, in quoting the mayor of Laredo, Texas (a border town), who inconguously dismisses the terrorist threat that porous borders pose. I write "incongruously," because Laredo's Port of Entry is just across the border from Nuevo Laredo, arguably Mexico's most violent border town and the epicenter of drug cartel activity. Martinez conveniently overlooks these issues and quotes the mayor, as if Betty Flores is some kind of terrorism expert, rather than a mayor trying futily to put the best face on a bad situation.

Laredo Mayor Betty Flores is one of the border politicians who have grown weary waiting for Washington to update immigration worker visa laws and enforcement methods.

But when she heard that immigration control advocates were gaining congressional support for building a fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border as a way to fight terrorism, Flores decided the escalating debate over illegal immigration was heading in the wrong direction.

"I think it's ridiculous," she said. "Terrorists are so well-funded that you are not going to find them crossing my pedestrian (border) bridges or crossing with the workers that walk across every day."

I wonder if Zetas -- Mexican para-military commandos operating in the United States as paid assassins -- qualify as terrorists? I wonder if MS-13 gang members (they operate here in Houston!) -- brutal, machete-wielding illegals, mostly Salvadorans, operating now in 33 states -- qualify as terrorists in their own right? I question (Martinez did not) whether the mayor of Laredo is as equipped as are Texas' sheriffs to assess the situation on the border vis-a-vis terrorism? I wonder if Texas' governor, Rick Perry, has a better handle on the problem of illegal immigration and its implications than does the tourists-commerce-seeking mayor of Laredo? Gebe Martinez does Chronicle readers a disservice in ignoring these issues and dismissing this nation's porous borders as anything but the unadulterated terrorist threat they are.

The second line in the sand comes in Gebe Matinez's characterization of the "two warring camps" in the immigration debate. People like yours truly are labelled as "hard-liners"; those opposed to tighter border security and the vigorous enforcement of immigration laws are described as "humanitarians." Is that an example of patent, pro-open borders' distortion, or what? And, I'm here to tell you it is consistent with previous biased Chronicle pieces on the subject.

On one side are hard-liners upset by the presence of so many illegal immigrants and the estimated half-million more who arrive every year. They believe that the illegal immigrants take jobs away from American citizens and provide a convenient cover for terrorists.

This camp wants tighter border controls and vigorous enforcement of immigration laws, not only as they apply to the illegal immigrants but also to the U.S. employers who hire them. In this way, they argue, illegal immigrants will likely be deported, and prospective illegal immigrants will be discouraged.

On the other side of the debate are businesses, which depend on foreign-born workers to take jobs that Americans don't want, and humanitarian groups, who believe illegal immigrants fit into the tradition of the American melting pot and should be granted a reasonable pathway to citizenship.

Well, in this writer's opinion, that so-called "melting pot" is already boiling over and increasingly exacerbated by a huge, virtually unchecked influx of border-jumpers, now numbering between 11 - 12 million people, who roam the country at will and without proper documentation -- all law-breakers, every last one of them -- and who feed off the taxpayer-funded federal and states' largess of broad social safety nets. They're euphemistically described as "undocumented workers" and as the "cheap labor" American businesses require to do the work that Americans refuse to do. But that "cheap labor" is subsidized labor -- subsidized by you and me, the taxpayers of this country -- and because illegals exploit "the system" they're able, despite low direct wages, to have enough disposable income left over to send 17 billion dollars back home annually in remittances (Mexico's second largest income stream after oil exports!). And if that doesn't put that careworn canard to rest, this should.

The third line in the sand is Martinez's slanderous characterization -- implied "xenophobia," to be sure -- of those who do not want lawbreakers in their midst, without any proper documentation identifying who they are, loitering about their neighborhoods and the businesses they frequent, as "prejudiced." The ol' race card at work in the immigration debate.

Now it has spread to North Carolina, Iowa, Oregon and Virginia. Voters there are voicing anger over a possible loss of national identity, often using language tinged with prejudice against outsiders.

"We've got illegal aliens. They are defecating and urinating in our 7 Eleven parking lot," a Herndon, Va., woman recently complained to a group of Republican congressmen. "I am not their hostess and they are not my guest and I find the term 'guest worker' very offensive and I urge you not to use it."

The fourth line in the sand and perhaps the most serious, as it must be a purposeful oversight by Gebe Martinez, is that there are only two major pieces of legislation currently being considered by Congress -- the McCain-Kennedy bill and the Cornyn-Kyl bill -- when, in point of fact, there are three. Indeed, there is no mention whatsoever of the recently-introduced TRUE Enforcement and Border Security Act of 2005, which puts emphasis on enhanced border security first (no doubt characteristic of a "hard-line" approach, according to the Chronicle's reporter).

All of which goes to show that readers of the Houston Chronicle and many other liberal-biased MSM publications must be critical readers. The Matinez article betrays an agenda at work and fits a template for the diluted immigration reform and welcome-wagon open borders that the Houston Chronicle champions.

NOTE TO READERS: The Houston Chronicle's on-line edition has just gone through a major format change and rebuild. Be advised: it has been loading slowly and it is cumbersome to access its pull-down menus. I'm sure the Chronicle's techies are working on these problems.

CORRECTION: I just became aware that the Houston Chronicle no longer requires free registration to access its on-line edition -- a caveat I've been in the habit of advising my readers. According to the Chronicle's Dwight Silverman, who was kind enough to write to me, "registration is (only) required to post in our forums, or use some of our other features, such as e-mail a friend and breaking news alerts." Thanks for the heads-up, Mr. Silverman.