‘Deportion of Illegal Immigrants: The Right Answer All Along’
Chronwatch, Robert Klein Engler, Jan. 30
Lou Dobbs talks about our broken borders on his CNN program, Moneyline. Fox News has Bill O’Reilly and his guest debating the issue. Now, the new film Farmingville will bring the issue of illegal immigration to even a wider audience.
The events depicted in Farmingville could happen these days anywhere in the U. S. In this new movie directed by Catherine Tambini and Carlos Sandoval, with Carlos Sandoval as screenwriter, we see the consequence of uncontrolled, illegal immigration. The focus for this story is a hate crime committed against two young Mexican day laborers by white youths. As the filmmakers explore the story behind the violence, what we discover is a story with implications for American society.
Farmingville is a small community located in the center of Long Island, New York. In the 1990s, Farmingville’s population jumped with an influx of illegal Mexican workers. Situated in the middle of Long Island, Farmingville attracts contractors who want a centralized work pool from which to draw. As a result, street corners of Farmingville have become de facto employment offices. Likewise, many of the neighborhood homes are filled with 20 or more residents, most of them illegal immigrants.
The legal residents of Farmingville began to ask for enforcement of local, state, and federal labor and immigration laws. Yet, as Brad Slager writes in his review of the film, ”Tragically, the problems the community had to deal with were the result of lack of enforcement of immigration and labor laws, and by the time the ill effects were being experienced, the time for action had already passed…when the problems were detected there was little that could have been done.”
Eventually, the residents took to the streets in protest. They confronted politicians, they hassled the contractors who came into town looking for workers, and they formed activist groups to confront the problem. Then, two illegal immigrant workers were brutally attacked by two white young men, from the area. That’s when the charges of racism began to surface, and have not yet subsided.
Regardless of the pleas by the resident of Farmingville for INS action, nothing was done. No one was interested in deporting those violating our immigration laws. According to an MSNBC article on the events at Farmingville by Sean Federico-O’Murchu MSNBC, ”…despite complaints by some locals that many of the migrant workers are illegal aliens, the Immigration and Naturalization Service says it won’t approach a group of people and ask for documentation without probable cause.”
The events at Farmingville mark a watershed in the problem of illegal immigration in this country. Prior to the attacks at Farmingville, an argument could be made that our need for low skilled and low paid workers was the driving force behind illegal immigration from Mexico to the U. S. There were jobs in the U. S. going without workers, so it made sense to hire illegal Mexicans to do the work Americans did not want to do.
After the violence at Farmingville, it is obvious that just the opposite has evolved. We have crossed a divide, now. Instead of low paying jobs attracting illegal immigrants, the shear number of illegal immigrants coming to the U. S. is encouraging the creation of more and more low paying jobs. What began yesterday as a pull has now become, today, a push.
Some business leaders now argue, that if there are thousands willing to work for low pay, then why not hire them instead of higher paid Americans? Add to this the exporting of American jobs to foreign countries with cheep labor, and it is no wonder many Americans are both fearful for their future and hostile towards immigrants.
Small proof that illegal immigrants are ruining the standard of living for many Americans is given by Margaret Bianculli-Dyber, a resident of Farmingville and President of The Sachem Quality of Life Organization. She says, ”My husband works for a large food-distribution warehouse — he’s a forklift operator. Traditionally, they make 20-something dollars an hour. My husband makes $12 an hour.”
Margaret Bianculli-Dybe continues, ”Labor is so plentiful for (the company), they say, ‘I can just replace you and get El Salvadorans for $6 or $7 an hour.’ Because of a plentiful supply of cheap labor, my husband’s wages are held down, and I have to work. Now, because of all the Mexicans, my property values have fallen $18,000 in four years. So, I can’t afford to sell my house for a profit and move away” (Michael Kamber, The Village Voice. August 8-14, 2001).
Increased deportation of illegal immigrants would solve the problem people like Margaret Bianculli-Dybe face, yet increased deportation is not happening. INS figures show that 76,861 people were deported from October 2001 to April 2002. The figures for 2003 are not readily available. However, if one makes a conservative estimate of 8 million illegal aliens in this country, then, it will take about 105 years for the office of Homeland Security to deport all the illegal aliens at a rate of about 76,000 a year.
Other data from the INS seems to show that deportation of illegal immigrants is declining. According to Randall Parker at ParaPundit.com, ”while the latest INS figures show a 75% increase in the deportation of Arabs and Muslims (FY 2002 compared to FY 2001), the same figures show an OVERALL DECREASE of 16% in the total number of deportations.”
Furthermore, ”In FY 2002, 28,833 fewer deportations took place than the preceding year; the biggest decline was among Mexicans, the single largest national group, which saw a decline of 32,692 illegal alien Mexicans.” What is significant about these data is that the number of illegal Mexicans coming into the U. S. is increasing even as the number of deported Mexicans is decreasing.
Many political pundits argue that the 2004 Presidential election will not be about the occupation of Iraq. Instead, the election will be about the economy. The Democrats feel that President Bush is vulnerable on this issue. If new jobs are not created and if interest rates rise along with unemployment, plans for a Republican reelection victory will be in trouble.
Sooner or later, some Republican strategists must see that illegal immigration hurts the President’s chances for reelection. The illegal immigration issue is now forcing Americans out of work, contributing to the job drain and creating larger and larger numbers of low paying jobs, besides creating racial tension like the racial tension in Farmingville.
The elites in both political parties have been hiding too long from the issue of illegal worker and the solution of deportation. Some Republicans say that deportation is not a realistic option to solve the problem of illegal immigration, while other Democrats don’t even know how to pronounce the word ”deportation” in public.
The blindness of our leaders over the issue of illegal immigration is unforgivable. Newsday.com for January 2, 2004, claims that, ”Farmingville unflinchingly portrays the worst of what can happen when the so-called border wars spread to suburbia. It also demonstrates what happens when politicians opt to run rather than lead. It should become required viewing for every decision-maker and local official in the State of New York.”
Unfortunately, the events at Farmingville have not sunk yet into the awareness of political and organized labor elites. Instead of trying to attract the Latino vote by short term promises, political leaders should focus on the long term, negative consequence of illegal immigration. These leaders should consider increased deportation as a viable solution to the illegal immigration problem. Instead of organizing illegal immigrants just to increase their membership rolls, labor union leaders should be working for the deportation of illegal immigrants, and then pressure for good paying jobs for American citizens.
Deportation is the solution to our immigration troubles because it both deters future illegal immigration and it removes illegal who should not be here in the first place. All the laws are in place right now to solve the problem of illegal immigration. The laws just need to be enforced. Deportation was the solution to problems of illegal immigration in the past and is the perfectly legal solution to this problem, today. If we do not make a massive effort at deportation, then there will be many more Farmingvilles.
Robert Klein Engler lives in Chicago and teaches at Roosevelt University. His books are available from amazon.com. The film “Farmingville” received the Special Jury Prize for documentaries at the recent Sundance Film Festival.