Chertoff: We will “vigorously” enforce bad laws

At a press conference Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff defended the negative effects to the U.S. meat industry of a Tuesday immigration raid in which over 1,200 suspected illegal immigrants working at meat packing company Swift & Co. were detained.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday raided six Swift meat processing plants across the country, arresting 1,282 people on immigration violations, and charging 65 of them with identity theft due to their alleged use of other Americans’ names and Social Security numbers in order to obtain the jobs.

Certainly anyone stealing someone’s identity is a significant problem. I can’t say that I have any problem with those people being arrested and having criminal charges filed against them.

But the laws preventing people from coming here to work are a serious problem. Chertoff even admits this.

“We’re hearing from growers out in the west who say now that we’ve cracked down on people coming across the border illegally, they’re having trouble finding people to pick lettuce and other kinds of crops,” he said. “And what it suggests is that the solution here long term is to come up with a temporary worker program that answers this economic need without putting people in the position where they are sorely tempted to break the law.”

Of course, like any bureaucrat, he’s trained to believe in the law as paramount, no matter what damage the law does to society.

“We all know that the primary economic engine that draws in illegal migration is work. And when businesses are built upon systematic violation of the law, or others go to systematically violate the law, in order to either bring in illegal migrants or to allow them to find jobs, that is a problem that we have to attack.”

In other words, it’s the law, and we don’t care whether it’s good or bad. You will obey or you will be crushed.

When reporters pressed the issue, Chertoff acknowledged the law was bad and called for it to be changed.

“Obviously, when even unwittingly a business is significantly built on illegal labor, once we enforce the law, that’s going to have a ripple effect. And that’s a way of emphasizing the fact that getting this issue of comprehensive immigration reform right is ultimately going to save everybody a big headache because it’s everybody’s problem. . . .

“But until the problem gets resolved in its entirety, we are going to enforce the law. We’re going to do it as vigorously as we can. We’re going to be fair about it, but we’re going to be tough about it. And again, we want to work with Congress to see if we can come up with a solution that is more comprehensive and addresses everybody’s interest in having a fair outcome.”

There you have it. Law is the most important thing in the whole world. It doesn’t matter if the law helps people or hurts people, because it’s the law. Everyone must bow before the law, even if it kills them. We’re just doing our job.

In the meantime, if in a couple of months you wonder why the price of meat has skyrocketed, or there just isn’t any to be had, now you know. It’s the law.

One thought on “Chertoff: We will “vigorously” enforce bad laws

  • December 15, 2006 at 6:51 am
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    One does have to wonder if they actually got that $13. My personal experience (admittedly over a decade old) indicates that probably a bunch of this had to be paid back to the supervisors and the company in various forms if you don’t want to end up fired.

    Also how long could you do the job, and what could you do afterwards. I know that this is another issue in hiring illegals. They don’t complain about safety issues. My experience comes from construction, and most of the times we had to help the fire department remove a body from the site the body was “illegal”. Also most of these positions while they actually paid over minimum wage (but about two thirds what they officially paid) also included a lot of off the clock time.

    The bottom line is that $13 an hour is not really that much if in a year or two you will be totally disabled.

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