Grovetown Police Chief Al Robinson has been beaten worse than a birthday pinata since he came out in favor of allowing drivers licenses for illegal aliens.
Not to pile on or anything, but good grief: Why in the world would we grant legal identification documents and permission to drive cars to people who dont even have legal immigration documents or permission to be in the United States?
Maybe we should consider pulling one of those scams like they use sometimes on fugitive felons; you know, the sting where the FBI sets up a fake cruise company and sends out invitations to the winners, who really are a bunch of criminals and bail-jumpers. The bad guys and gals, hoping for a fat payday, come in to collect their prizes, and instead get fitted for chrome bracelets and a trip to the federal pen.
Likewise, the feds could set up a phony license bureau run by undercover agents from the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Invite the illegals in to apply for a drivers license - and then treat em to a free one-way trip out of the country when they show up.
Make em stand in line first, though. No one would fall for the scam if they didnt have to stand in line to get a license.
Yeah, yeah, thatd be sneaky. But its no sneakier than cutting in line in front of the thousands of other people waiting to legally come to America. And the Center for Immigration Studies reports that illegal immigrants - especially those from Mexico - put downward pressure on wages paid to all workers. Because illegal immigrants work cheaper, the CIS estimates their presence in the workforce cuts about 5 percent off the pay scale for workers without a high-school education. (Theres yet another incentive for staying in school.)
Before we take any more swings at Robinson, though, we should remember that our own greed fuels the market for such workers. Its a barely talked-about topic in Columbia County, but already many of the traditional laborer jobs are being taken over by Mexican immigrants. Theyll work hard, theyll work cheap, and we get a great deal for the money.
The building industry, especially, is taking advantage of these workers, many of whom are not just cheap, but are exploited because they dont dare complain if they dont have the proper documents.
We used to think the use of illegal Mexican workers happened only in California or Texas, but just ask around: Youll find builders talking about the ready supply of Hispanic laborers helping build homes from West Lake to Grovetown.
For a few hundred bucks off the price of a new hacienda, then, were willing to pretend not to see the Spanish-speaking workers laying concrete block on job sites - and then we act horrified when Grovetowns chief says hes in favor of allowing these invisible illegals to drive.
Justifiably, Chief Robinson is taking heat for endorsing the idea of drivers licenses for illegals, though Im still puzzled how you could get a ticket for, say, speeding, when you didnt obey the law that prohibited you from being in the country to begin with.
Robinson may be on the wrong track in promoting drivers licenses for those who arent supposed to be here. But he is a step ahead of every other public official around because he not only is willing to admit both legal and illegal Hispanic immigrants are here - about 2,500 of them, according to the U.S. Census - but he is taking admirable steps to reach out and incorporate them into the broader community.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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