My first contact with the Barbers came as a result of attending ALI's Midwest Immigration Summit in November 2003 held in Indianapolis.Â The evening prior to the "summit," I and several other immigration-reduction activists had dinner with the Barbers, during which timeÂ Esther related how the local Mexican consulate was making her life a living hellÂ because she and BobÂ spoke out against illegal immigration.Â She repeated her tale of woe the next day during the summit luncheon, and she had everybody in the room inÂ the palm of her hand.Â That a foreign government was harassing a soon-to-be citizen of her adopted country was beyond the pale.
But a few years later we began hearing from Indiana activists that the Barbers had suddenlyÂ dropped their opposition to illegal immigration because of, well, you know, "economic reality," i.e., removing illegals from the state would hurt business ownersÂ and only drive up prices on consumer goods, housing, etc., etc.
In a written report to Indiana legislators dealing with the economic impact of any attempt to drive illegals from the state, Esther predicted a "30 percent hit from lost wages, lost business and less taxes paid if (Sen. Mike) Delph's bill passes." The Indianapolis Star, Feb 28, 2008.Â Delph has been a thorn in Esther's side since he began efforts three years ago to crack down on illegal immigration.
Early last year she railed against a bill that would force Indiana employers to run new hires through the E-Verify program because itÂ would "discriminate" against all Hispanics:
"I'm ready to fight this," she said. "Employers will be afraid to hire Hispanics."
And inÂ her most recent defense of illegal aliens, Ms. Barber, who is the founder and executive director ofÂ the Indianapolis-based Mexican Civic Association of Indiana (web site also defunct)Â says:
"Poor people come here seeking a better quality of life, like any human being," Barber said. "If that is a crime, everybody is a criminal in this country and all over the world."I not sure Esther quite understands that there is nothing illegal about entering a country if you're poor provided that you do it legally.
Shortly before his death last fall, Bob Barber wentÂ before the Marion County Alcoholic Beverage Board on behalf ofÂ two illegal aliens seeking a liquor license.Â He can be seenÂ about halfÂ way through (1 hour mark)Â this video pleading their case.Â (He is seated to the right and wearing a dark business suit.)Â Â Despite the commission's knowledge that the applicants were here illegally, theÂ licensesÂ subsequently wereÂ approved, according to activists in that state.
Because EstherÂ often isÂ quoted by The Indianapolis Star as a leading advocate for illegal aliens, I though it important to tellÂ Star reporter Jason ThomasÂ about Esther's change of heart because his readers are entitled to know both sides of this issue.Â I followed this with a letter to the editor that I have just learnedÂ was not selected for publication.
The Star's Opinions Editor Tim Swarens [Email him] explained his decision not to run my letter this way:
"Thanks for your message. A letterÂ to the editor isn't the right forum for this type of dispute. Your accusations againstÂ Ms. Barber may be factually correct, or even warranted. I don't know, and I don't have the time to interview her to try to determine her motives or the facts of the case.I disagree, of course, because the facts speak for themselves and I don't consider my criticism of her to be "personal." Besides, she alsoÂ has theÂ opportunity in either a letter to the editorÂ or op-edÂ to rebut everything I saidÂ took placeÂ seven years ago.
"If you want to discuss the issues involved with illegal immigration in Indiana or the Midwest, that's fine, of course. But going after Ms. Barber personally in a letter to the editorÂ is another matter."
In an e-mail announcing Bob's passing, Esther wrote this to an activist who also attended ALI's immigration summit:
"IÂ just want to let you know that Bob just pass (sic)Â away, last Monday, I know that even when he was not actively involve (sic)Â he always was on your side ...Â please give this info to his friendÂ from Chicago ... the one (Dave Gorak)Â who put the story about what the consul did to me... I canÂ (sic)Â remember his name at thisÂ moment.""Always on our side"? And she still was carrying on about whatÂ the Mexican consulate "did" to her?
Why the Barbers opted to take the low road on our issue after all their whining about a Mexican government that was meddling in their lives is known only to Esther, butÂ I'm going to suggestÂ that perhaps their decision had something to do withÂ that line from the 1976 movie, "All the President's Men," when "Deep Throat" (Hal Holbrook)Â advises Robert Woodward (Robert Redford) to "Follow the money."
Esther's betrayal of her new country that has given her the opportunity to live far better than she could have ever imagined will never get the national attention given to Lou Dobbs' sell-out, but it still serves as a reminder to me of something I learned to accept years ago:Â We don't live in a Norman Rockwell world.