America's least honored ideal in our time is the one carved on the Statue of Liberty: "Bring me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." The anti-immigrant animus -- from Know-Nothingism until today -- is, and always has been, a racial/ethnic animus. You doubt it? Pay attention to how people respond to British accents. Almost always, we are charmed, curious, hospitable to British and other European visitors. Now contrast how people mock Latino or Asian accents. Not the same, is it?
Today's Clarion-Ledger reports the indictment of the former owner of Stix restaurant in Jackson. The story is here:
The article by Jimmie Gates explains the charges:
A federal grand jury indicted the defendants on Feb. 18 on charges of conspiring to harbor illegal immigrants for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Judy Chen and Wong also were indicted for harboring illegal immigrants and encouraging illegal immigrants to reside in the United States for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain. The maximum sentence for that offense is also 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.
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In addition, the indictment also recounts the arrest of 15 illegal immigrant employees of Stix Restaurant from May 2006 through March 2008, when the restaurant was ultimately raided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where a total of nine additional illegal immigrants were arrested.
Now here's the part that stabbed me in the brain:
Acting U.S. Attorney Stan Harris underscored the U.S. attorney’s office will vigorously prosecute employers who violate federal immigration laws. “The U.S. attorney’s office recognizes that illegal immigration is no longer just an economic issue, but is a national security issue as well.”
Give me a break, Mr. Harris. You think 15 kitchen workers at a sushi-and-steak restaurant is a "national security issue?" What were you afraid they would do? It's not like they could undercook the sushi.
But that's not the only fallacy in his statement. Illegal immigration is NOT an economic issue. That is because, for the last 700+ years, those countries that have more open immigration policies have outperformed the rest by leaps and bounds. The reason is simple: immigrants, by definition, have initiative and a strong work ethic. They ADD value to any economy they join.
Don't take my word for it. The Economist published a comprehensive study on the issue in its January 3, 2008 issue. You can find it on-line (you have to register, but don't need to pay for the privilege) here: http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displaystory.cfm?subjectid=894664&story_id=E1_TDQPDNRN
Reason magazine adds its analysis here: http://www.reason.com/news/show/123912.html
The closing of Stix illustrates the point. Once there were 15 immigrants at the restaurant, earning income which was spent on food, rent, and other necessities. Also, the increased staff made it possible for Stix to accommodate more customers, thereby increasing the restaurants' income, which was spent on supplies, food, gas and electricity, the mortgage on the building, etc, etc.
But now the restaurant is closed, and Lakeland Drive is safe from terrorism. Thank you, Mr. Harris.
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