Just when we were ready to throw in the towel and believe the president about his border security successes, convinced that 11 million new Americans are as bad as things are going to get, our Secretary of Labor announced a deal with Nicaragua and Guatemala to protect the rights of their citizens who work in the U.S.
It is no big surprise that Secretary Solis is following Barack Obama’s lead, letting Latin American countries know that our door is open, and that we value the presence of their citizens in our country:
“Individuals from Guatemala and Nicaragua make important contributions to the U.S. economy, and their workplace rights should be protected,” said Secretary Solis. “I am pleased that the U.S., Guatemalan and Nicaraguan governments are working together to help make that happen.”1
Neither this press release, nor Secretary Solis’ remarks at the signing ceremony, made any mention of how many of the Nicaraguans and Guatemalans we seek to protect are here illegally. Instead, she sweetened the incentives to come here by suggesting that even illegal immigrants have rights:
No matter how they came to this country, these workers have certain rights. They have the right to safe, clean working conditions, and they have the right to get paid the full wages they are owed. This means no less than $7.25 an hour — the federal minimum wage.2
Solis also made it clear that immigration status was a problem not because we have had our fill of illegal immigrants, but because it might lead to unfair or unsafe conditions for migrants:
Unfortunately, due to language barriers and immigration status, migrant workers can be vulnerable to abuse. When they are made to work in unsafe conditions — or not paid the wages they’re owed — it has a ripple effect across our whole economy.3
Failing to take responsibility for one’s situation is a hallmark of Democratic policy. No one forces illegal immigrants to work in unsafe conditions, any more than we asked them to come here. If their lives are difficult because of the status they chose by sneaking over our border, then they can go home. Instead, they use their immigration status as an excuse to parade through our streets at staged rallies, demanding the rights of citizens. Citizenship carries responsibility. By entering illegally, their first act as Americans-in-waiting was to break the law.
Our Department of Labor wants migrant workers to know that they have another sympathetic ear in Washington. In keeping with the Obama administration’s distaste for private enterprises not firmly under the thumb of big government, businesses are blamed for violating the law and driving down wages:
Labor law violations create downward pressures on the wages and working conditions of all workers. That’s why it’s important that we take steps to level the playing field. It’s the right thing to do for our economy — and it’s consistent with our core American values.4
Rewarding lawbreaking has never been one of our core values. Millions of illegal aliens in low wage jobs also depress wages, but the party line demands that employers be the villains.
The agreement calls for providing information about labor rights to Guatemalan and Nicaraguan migrants. OSHA and the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division will be involved, and a free hotline is being set up for workers.5 No mention was made of what the administrative end of this will cost taxpayers, or why there was not a dash of enforcement thrown in, just to keep things fair for those of us who belong here.
The Nicaraguan and Guatemalan ambassadors must have had a good chuckle at the signing ceremony. Anyone know how to say “suckers” in Spanish?