Barrett: Compassion too often denied to victims of illegal aliens

Barrett: Compassion too often denied to victims of illegal aliens

July 3rd, 2011 by Steve Barrett in Opinion Columns

An article in the Times Free Press told of a forum on immigration at which a 13-year-old girl tearfully recounted the arrest of her mother. Police had caught the woman driving without a license.

"It's been a month since I've seen my mom," the girl said at the meeting with city and law enforcement officials in Dalton, Ga.

I don't know whether her mother is in the United States legally. I do know that I feel sorry for the girl. But it would be unjust if our pity stopped there. So for a change, let's extend sympathy to the unheralded victims of illegal immigration, too.

Imagine a similar forum near Texas' border with Mexico. Only this time, suppose those harmed by illegal immigration were the ones encouraged to share their stories. A U.S. citizen might step to the microphone to say something like this:

"Our local hospital closed its maternity ward last year because it lost so much money on all the uninsured illegal aliens who came in for care. In a couple of months, my wife is having a baby. The next closest maternity ward is a lot farther away than the one that closed. I hope when the time for the delivery comes, we can get there fast enough so my wife and our baby will be OK." (This has happened repeatedly, and some border hospitals have closed outright.)

At a forum in any number of America's "sanctuary cities" - which restrict cooperation by local authorities with federal immigration officials - the story would be different but equally alarming. You might hear something like this from a widow in San Francisco:

"An illegal alien who had been arrested for one violent act after another but was not turned over to immigration authorities mistook my husband and our two sons for members of an opposing gang. He killed all three of them." (Authorities say this actually happened. The trial gets under way soon.)

Or let's visit a gathering in New York, where thousands of widows, widowers, orphans and bereaved parents could line up to say with absolute truth:

"People who broke our immigration laws were among those who hijacked planes on 9/11 and killed our (mother/father/sister/brother/son/daughter)."

Alas, advocates of amnesty for illegal aliens have a titanic stake in downplaying the consequences of unlawful immigration. They'll never get amnesty (aka "comprehensive immigration reform") passed if victim status is granted higgledy-piggledy to just any old citizen who is harmed directly or indirectly by policies protecting illegals. Congressional or presidential efforts to confer legal status on millions who broke the law to come here must be portrayed as compassionate, if not heroic.

Why muddy the accepted narrative of noble "undocumented" immigrants bearing up under the cruelty of unfeeling bureaucrats? No no. We must be choosy about those on whom we bestow compassion. It's best to keep the people who suffer from illegal immigration under wraps.

Guinea pig nation

If you want to list scary things Barack Obama said before he became president, you have an embarrassment of riches from which to choose. Take this gem, from November 2008: "What you see in FDR that I hope my team can emulate is not always getting it right, but projecting a sense of confidence and a willingness to try things and experiment in order to get people working again."

Well, Mr. President, you've plied that confidence game and experimented on us for going on three years now, including a period during which Democrats controlled the House and had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. You've thrown tax revenue and borrowed money at every conceivable problem, and it hasn't worked. Unemployment is far higher today than when you took office, and nobody is predicting enough economic growth to really start bringing it down soon. True to your word, you stand unaccused of "always getting it right." Quite the opposite.

Now I hear you're devoting $500 million to some new technology initiative in the latest in a series of increasingly desperate gambits to "create quality jobs." Another half-billion tossed into the stimulus ether, never to be seen again.

Which brings us to something you said in early 2009 about turning around the economy: "If I don't have this done in three years, then there's going to be a one-term proposition."

Don't have it done, Mr. President? You don't have it started.