December 26, 2008 Editorial Getting Immigration RightThe stablity and dignity of the workforce would be much greater if they weren't being displaced by large numbers of illegal aliens. And the primary "right" ofÂ illegal immigrants is a free ticket home. But the problem is that all the wrong-headedness featured in the NYT is likely to be reflected in the incoming Obama administration.
It’s way too early to tell whether the United States under President-elect Barack Obama will restore realism, sanity and lawfulness to its immigration system. But it’s never too early to hope, and the stars seem to be lining up, at least among his cabinet nominees.
If Mr. Obama’s team is confirmed, the country will have a homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano of Arizona, and a commerce secretary, Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who understand the border region and share a well-informed disdain for foolish, inadequate enforcement schemes like the Bush administration’s border fence. And it will have a labor secretary, Hilda Solis of California, who, as a state senator and congresswoman, has built a reputation as a staunch defender of immigrants and workers.
The confluence of immigrants and labor is exactly what this country – particularly, and disastrously, the Bush administration – has not been able to figure out.
In simplest terms, what Ms. Solis and Mr. Obama seem to know in their gut is this: If you uphold workers’ rights, even for those here illegally, you uphold them for all working Americans. If you ignore and undercut the rights of illegal immigrants, you encourage the exploitation that erodes working conditions and job security everywhere. In a time of economic darkness, the stability and dignity of the work force are especially vital. [More]