The sing song ping pong our MainStream Media print powers are playing with the immigration issue continues almost daily.
I just caught the New York Times in a sellout to its big business advertisers [Businesses Bleat For Lax Immigration Enforcement—With Full NY Times Support], when lo and behold, to my not so wondering eyes should appear but a little old item by Pamela Constable, that I knew in a moment it must be another WaPo trick, for its little old palaver, so lively and quick, bespeaks of how poor illegals are given the stick.
OK, OK, I couldn't resist that bit of parody. But really, this succumbing to the importuning by big business to offer consistent Santa Claus booster gift support of illegal aliens on its news pages really does not befit the standing of a leading paper.
Constable's front page Washington Post story, Advocates Speak Up for Illegal Day Laborers Cheated of Wages, (July 8, 2008) strains hard for a chord of legality in its opening paragraphs,
"It was a relatively small amount, $720, that José was owed for 72 hours of construction work in the District. Most [illegal] immigrant day laborers, fleeced by a casual employer and unaware they had any legal recourse, would have swallowed their anger and let the matter drop.
"José, 45, who has family to feed in El Salvador, was determined to fight back. He had kept a record of the painting, drywalling and other jobs he had done for a small contractor. He went to a church, which found him a team of lawyers, who took his case to court.
"Although few [illegal] immigrant day laborers realize it, they have the same right as any worker to sue employers for unpaid back wages, even if they are here illegally. In recent months, advocacy groups in the Washington region have been helping such workers file administrative claims and lawsuits, and in some cases they have won."
I am in favor of full compensation for work performed, doubtless hard, low wage work. But here's a crime committed by illegal employers on illegal workers being spun to show how the immigration bar is helping right a wrong. Jose got his money, after the judge raised an obvious question about whether such a worker was protected by local labor laws, whether he paid taxes and whether he should be entitled to back wages, when his immigration lawyer, Attorney Laura Varela, (a foundation-funded activist) [Send her mail] " brought copies of federal statutes and case law showing that all workers in the United States are entitled to recover unpaid wages, regardless of immigration status."
Hey, I am glad that a crooked employer got nailed. (I'm a Democrat!)
But the immigration bar are not knights in shining armor defending the little abused workers.
That misses the main point (as is the Post's custom in addressing the immigration issue): illegal is illegal is illegal.
Look at these emotional paragraphs making the article's main argument—that illegal is ok and you better get used to it!
"In the Washington region, hundreds of Hispanic immigrants survive at the legal and economic margins of society, flagging down work vans and hoping to earn a few dollars with no questions asked. Such workers are often easy to fleece, with checks that bounce or threats to call immigration authorities.
"Although some of the workers are in the United States legally, they might not understand their rights or might fear being deported if they complain. By raising labor complaints, illegal workers could be vulnerable to a check of their immigration status."
The rest of Constable's article basically gives the noble immigration bar free rein to lament the frequent stiffing of illegal workers by evil employers:
"'Day laborers are the most vulnerable because of the informal environment of their work,' said Varela, who works for the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs in the District. [VDARE.COM note: see previous coverage here.] 'They have no contract or records. They may not know where they worked or who they worked for. They may be too scared to step into a courtroom or too worried about missing more work.'"
"The legal situation of such immigrant laborers is often confusing and contradictory. Under federal law, it is illegal to hire a worker who does not have permission to be in the United States. In the past year, workplace raids by federal immigration agents across the Washington region have led to the arrests of several hundred illegal immigrants and to legal action against some employers."
"Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, all workers are entitled to be paid minimum wage and overtime for work performed. The law does not discuss the issue of immigration status. Many jurisdictions, including the District and Maryland, have laws or court rulings that clearly extend wage and hour rights to immigrants, regardless of legal status. These laws are rarely enforced, however, and few cases reach court."
The, of course, the American justice system gets further perverted when large companies contract with small ones for work which the smaller contractor does and then skips paying.
"For laborers who join crews on larger jobs, it is somewhat easier to legally pursue unpaid wages. In one case, three area nonprofit groups helped some Hispanic workers file a class-action suit against Verizon Communications, claiming that the workers had not received all their pay after digging ditches for fiber-optic cable in the Washington area. Verizon has claimed the responsibility lies with the subcontractors who hired the workers."
So the shining knights of the immigration bar get to give a further example of their prowess.
"Varela's law group also helped seven Hispanic workers sue for back wages from a painting company in Frederick. A federal judge ruled in the workers' favor in January, finding that immigration status was 'irrelevant' to the case. The judge added that when employers 'circumvent the labor laws as to undocumented aliens,' it creates an 'unacceptable economic incentive' to hire them at lower wages than U.S. residents or citizens."
The Federal judge says their immigration status is "irrelevant"? In one sense, that is true–the workers deserve to be paid. But in the larger sense, the ruling cuts deeply and permanently into our precious concept of The Rule of Law, which this entire column circumvents in its reporting:
"Although such rulings bolster the laborers' cause, advocates said it is difficult to collect the workers' money. Often, Varela said, contractors do not appear in court. A judge might order that the wages be paid, but then nothing happens."
And then Constable's final sob story to end this sad saga.
"'We worked long and hard digging the ditches,' said Francisco Luna, 43, a Mexican worker in the Verizon case. 'They owed me almost $1,000, but the checks had insufficient funds. People are needy, and the employers have all the power. We only ask them to have a heart, and to respect the work we do.'"
Pitiful, isn't it? Greed, power, illegality, and the rotten core of human behavior being ignored by our elites in every sector, but to see it time after time in the revered Fourth Estate, given special protection by our Constitution and our Bill of Rights to facilitate real truth telling frankly disgusts me—and most Americans, too, I'd be willing to bet.
I wonder if this kind of propaganda—don't forget, this was front page in a top newspaper—will become a national phenomenon, selling out to the Open Border special interests, business advertisers, the immigration bar and the ethno/ideo lobbyists.
If the print media's circulation and advertising revenues keep plummeting, it will take real backbone—not presently displayed by the New York Times and Washington Post—to make reporting on immigration balanced and fair!
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.