March 8, 2007

If We Enforce Immigration Law, We Make The Children Cry

The Guardian takes a poke at American immigration enforcement from across the pond, going weepy over the arrests of illegal aliens at a defense-industry manufacturer in Massachussetts. Included among over 300 people employed by Michael Bianco Inc were, shockingly, some mommies and daddies:

About 100 children were left stranded at schools and day care centres after their parents were rounded up by federal authorities in a raid on a factory where hundreds of illegal immigrants worked to produce supplies for the US military.

About two-thirds of the 500 employees working at leather maker Michael Bianco Inc in New Bedford, Massachusetts, were detained on Tuesday by immigration officials for possible deportation as illegal immigrants. Most of the employees were women and, as a result, many of their children were not picked up from school or day care that day.

Corinn Williams, director of the Community Economic Development Centre of Southeastern Massachusetts, estimated about 100 children were left with babysitters or caretakers.

"We're continuing to get stories today about infants that were left behind," she said yesterday. "It's been a widespread humanitarian crisis here in New Bedford."

Without a doubt, the authorities need to ensure that the children receive proper care. However, let's put the blame where it belongs -- on the parents. They knew they broke the law when they came into the country illegally, and they knew they broke the law when they took employment while being here illegally.

For that matter, so did the employer. Francesco Insolia employs 500 people in his workshops. He makes backpacks and safety vests for the military, and apparently the notoriously profitable defense contracts he received did not provide enough margin for Insolia. More than two-thirds of his workforce could not verify their eligibility for employment, making illegal workers the rule rather than the exception.

Insolia wasn't the kind and mentoring type, either. Michael Sullivan, the US Attorney bringing charges, calls Insolia's workplace a "sweatshop", and for good reason. He regularly fined his workers $20 for talking on the job or spending more than two minutes in the bathroom. Three of his managers also found themselves in custody, and a fifth man got arrested for providing the counterfeit identification they used to keep ICE at bay.

Contrary to the tone of the Guardian's introduction, ICE has committed to resolving the status of the children. For those who are single parents, Julie Myers has pledged to release the parent. Eight pregnant women have already been released, although all will have to face deportation hearings soon.

No one likes to see parents separated from their children. However, when parents break the law, that's what happens; responsible parents already know that. We don't waive charges for moms and dads that rob banks, steal the payroll, or sell drugs on the corner. If these parents want to work in the US, let them follow the law and emigrate legally, gaining the eligibility to work like millions of legal immigrants before them. If they don't want to do that, then they had better make preparations to be separated from their children if they get caught in ICE raids.


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