Thirty years ago Americans were out of work and illegal immigrants were stealing their jobs. The jobless numbers would be cheered as accomplishments today, but our government still had a shred of integrity and admitted that Americans were paying a price for illegal immigration:
In a time of high unemployment, more American citizens are being displaced from the work force by undocumented workers (illegal aliens employed in the United States). Illegal aliens are flowing into the country at an increasing rate, and the problem of undocumented workers is nationwide, no longer confined to the southwest border or to farm labor.¹
The Comptroller General’s report also spoke of the Department of Labor, mentioning the “limited impact Labor has had on employment of undocumented workers…” and its “evident reluctance to identify such workers….”² Not only were the undocumented working, the report examined the effects of a Department of Labor program in six states and disputed the image of noble souls slaving for pennies because of America’s cruel immigration system:
Many undocumented workers earn at or above prevailing minimum wage rates and those who receive less tend to refrain from complaining.³
Three decades have passed. The Labor Department has gone from reluctance to deal with illegal workers to active, taxpayer-funded advocacy on their behalf. We no longer need to worry about identifying illegal immigrants on the job. Federal agencies and our president have turned them into de facto citizens who no longer need to fear deportation.
Real citizens pay the salary of Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, a tireless advocate for fairness and rights for the undocumented. Ms. Solis neglects to acknowledge the fundamental unfairness to taxpayers of policies that make it easier for the undocumented to support themselves in the U.S. She does not mention how millions of unemployed Americans pay for benefits for illegal immigrants and fund education for their children. She does not tell us why we should worry about fairness to foreigners whose first act on American soil is to break the law.
The Obama unemployment rate is rivaled only by the Great Depression but our labor secretary is making sure workplace rights are respected for all workers, illegal and legal alike. Government failure and neglect has helped the numbers of illegal immigrants swell since the 1980s, so the above minimum wage jobs they took from Americans years ago may not be as available today. Still, the Labor Department wants the undocumented to know that they deserve to make no less than the minimum wage paid to U.S. citizens:
Our federal government—under both Republican and Democratic presidents—has long held that all people working in this country have the right to the federal minimum wage, regardless of immigration status.4
Since taxpayers pay Ms. Solis to perform her duties on their behalf, one would think that those duties would include mentioning that illegals are not supposed to be working here at all, or that if they are working they likely did something illegal to convince employers they were eligible. No such luck. Instead, Secretary Solis used the example of Alabama to tell us who the bad guys are:
… unscrupulous employers are taking advantage of Alabama’s immigration law to deny workers the wages they have earned and, under federal law, continue to be legally owed.5
We heard the same thing when she signed agreements with Latin American countries to protect the rights of their citizens working in the U.S., and set up a hotline for immigrants to call to rat out their employers (see: Labor Department Assures Migrant Workers of Rights).
A Department of Labor blog post talks about how Americans can learn about immigration from storytelling.6 The accounts sound more like politically charged anecdotes:
I heard about families that had been separated; about fearful workers who had been treated terribly; and about brilliant students, with big dreams who can’t make them come true.7
Some of us do not care about the sob stories of illegal immigrants. They chose to come here and they can choose to leave. We care about the tales of American citizens whose futures have been destroyed by the failures of the Obama presidency and the influence of agenda-driven federal officials. 5.5 million Americans can tell stories about experiencing the joys of long-term unemployment while the White House applauds its success repairing the economy. Countless more could talk about rising taxes in states like Illinois that pander to members of Ms. Solis’ flock and force residents to fund college tuition breaks for undocumented immigrants while they scrape to save for their own kids. We do not know how many could tell stories about their identities being stolen, but we can thank the Labor Department for letting illegals know they have rights in the workplace whether or not the law says they can work here.
Like Hilda Solis the president is concerned about fairness, though as time passes his pleas sound more like whining than leadership:
I mean, this is a nation of immigrants. When did we lose that sense that we welcome the “huddled masses”?8
Americans love the huddled masses. We even pay to care for the masses that live in other countries, and welcome immigrants with open arms who respect our country enough to abide by its laws. What we do not like are foreigners who have so little respect for America that they demand their place in our society whether we like it or not, and break our laws when we fail to accommodate their demands.
There is one more thing we don’t like. Paying the salaries of federal officials who show no more respect for our laws and institutions than the undocumented they defend.