Taking America for a Ride

All decked out in the verbal garb of the ’50s and ’60s, a so-called Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride (IWFR) will descend upon Washington, D.C., this fall. Its goal is legal status for nine million or more aliens living illegally in the United States-another potential "amnesty" travesty.

But what have these riders to say for themselves? According to their web page,

"Immigrant workers, living and paying taxes in the United States, want the rights to apply for citizenship, to reunify their families, and to have a voice on the job . . . Inspired by the Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement, immigrant workers and their allies will set out from eight major U.S. cities and cross the country in buses in late September 2003. They will converge on Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress and then travel to New York City for a mass rally on Oct. 4, 2003."

The Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride is cloaked in falsehoods and deceptions.

Immigrant Workers?

By law, immigrants are legal aliens admitted for permanent residence. America admits a million of them every year-far more than any other country. Immigrant workers already have the rights (actually privileges) these complainants demand.

However, so-called "immigrants" referred to in the above statement of aims are actually "illegal aliens"-persons who have entered our country illegally or over-stayed their visas. These are criminals seeking to be rewarded for breaking our laws.

"Living . . . in the United States?" Who invited these people to live here? They invited themselves!

"[P]aying taxes in [the] United States?" Low-paid workers do not earn enough to pay wage taxes. No group is as likely as illegal alien workers to conspire with scofflaw employers to avoid FICA taxes, worker’s comp, unemployment insurance, etc. And there is reason to doubt that the taxes illegals do pay come anywhere near making up for the social costs they impose.

And since when does paying taxes qualify one for legal status? Up until now our tax system has had one purpose, and one purpose only: to raise revenues. Shall filthy lucre now become the coin of membership in our great country?

How far are these claims from those of the Founders who pledged their "lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor" to make a nation, or the million men who expressed their loyalty with the last drop of their blood, or even the 25 million post-1924 immigrants who came here legally after waiting their turn.

An astonishing array of civic and "activist" groups support or endorse this ride, which include organized labor.

The AFL-CIO has "resolved that [it] will adopt the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride (IWFR) as a campaign of the AFL-CIO, will join with affiliated unions, state federations and central labor bodies in the IWFR, and will urge member unions to contribute to this effort and to adopt this same resolution of support of the IWFR."

Many individual unions including the Service Employees International, United Farmworkers, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters have responded. In many parts of the country, however, local unions and contractors scout work sites to report illegal workers who take their jobs, cut their wages, or allow competitors to underbid them for contracts.

Hispanic and other ethnic organizations are endorsers, of course. A lukewarm smattering of church organizations including: the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, and Catholic Charities of Dubuque, Iowa, have signed up along with an assemblage of "open borders" advocates.

Elected politicians who’ve enrolled include 56 from California, eight from Mississippi, and one each from Georgia and New York. Among these are six members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Freedom Ride?

Most surprising are the endorsements of the major black civil rights organizations: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Most unsettling is the sponsorship of Rep. John Lewis (D.-Ga.), a bonafide hero of the Civil Rights movement and a participant in the legendary Freedom Ride of the early 1960s.

In his letter of sponsorship, Mr. Lewis alluded to that "historic Freedom Ride" over 40 years ago, challenged America once again to "live up to basic ideals of human dignity and justice," and claimed illegal workers "make significant, valuable contributions to building our economy and communities." He went on to cite what he called: the "basic unfairness of America’s immigration policies," and said he planned to ride with IWFR, and urged riders to "keep your eyes on the Prize!"

Wrong on all counts! The basic ideals of human dignity and justice Mr. Lewis speaks of didn’t float in from the ether, they were born and nurtured in the hearts and minds of Englishmen and Americans.

The Freedom Ride he participated in was a challenge for America to live up to those ideals on behalf of black Americans after 300 years of enslavement and Jim Crow. The ancestors of our black brothers and sisters were brought here in chains and against their will. How can one compare this to illegal aliens who came here voluntarily, one or two years ago, against our wishes, and in violation of our laws?

Every black freedom fighter from W.E.B. Dubois to James Meredith sought refuge in the "rule of law." These IWFR riders seek to be rewarded for breaking our laws. Black leaders of an earlier time complained bitterly about the contributions massive immigration made to poverty and joblessness among black Americans. Today’s situation is a mirror image of the past, but who among the black leaders now objects? Communities all over America, including black communities, are being swept away by illegal immigrants. America is a nation that legally admits a million legal immigrants every year. Americans simply cannot be accused of injustice or unfairness for refusing to reward people who have deliberately broken their laws.

The puny premises of the IWFR are illuminated by the absence of inspired spokesmen. There is no Martin Luther King Jr, no Fannie Lou Hamer or Whitney Young among them, because they have no moral power-only the force of numbers to argue for them. Moreover, there are no "Bull" Connors and George Wallaces, no whips and hoses and attack dogs to test the courage of seekers after justice (and thank goodness for that!). But at the same time, there is also no active opposition to these arrogant, indeed, monstrous demands. At least not so far.

It’s hard to believe that black Americans would want to associate their historic struggle for equality with this tawdry and dishonest escapade. The Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride seeks to hijack its famous noble antecedents. They’ve established a record for unmitigated gall that will not soon be broken.

Two certainties emerge. First, what you reward (by legalization) you get more of and what you punish (by deportation) you get less of. Second, the IWFR’s success, should it come to pass, will deliver a knockout blow to our precious rule of law.