Greed Over National Security
Since September 11, Americans have been asking how our national security could have been so perilously breeched. How do “students” who aren’t students at all get admitted to the United States, fail to attend classes and never get reported to authorities? How do an estimated 8 to 11 million illegal aliens live, work, obtain Social Security numbers, drivers’ licenses and other ID documents with virtually no fear of the law?
The answer, in a word, is greed. For countless businesses, universities and advocacy groups, open borders have meant billions of dollars in their pockets - some of which find there way into the campaign coffers of the people who make and oversee immigration laws.
The most blatant example of corporate greed’s influence over American immigration policy is alleged in the indictment of six current and former high-level executives of Tyson Foods, Inc., the nation’s leading poultry processor and the parent company of IBP, the number one beef and pork processor in the country. The indictments, handed down on December 19, accuse Tyson Foods of systematically hiring illegal aliens to work in their plants and conspiring to smuggle illegal aliens into the United States.
The use of illegal alien labor, the government charges, was part of a corporate policy to cut labor costs and enhance profits. Over the past 15 years, or so, Tyson, IBP and many of the other leading food processors have openly busted unions and transformed their labor forces from American workers to primarily low wage illegal immigrant workers.
All the while, these corporations’ PACs poured millions of hard and soft campaign dollars into the campaign treasuries of members of Congress and both political parties. At the same time, an army of high-priced lobbyists pressed successfully for ever larger loopholes in the immigration law and for nonenforcement of those they could not overturn.
Making a quick buck off of lax immigration enforcement is not solely the vice of a few corporate fat cats. Colleges and universities, which profess to answer to a higher calling, have long viewed the foreign student visa program as their own private cash cow. While openly acknowledging widespread abuses in the program, these institutions of higher education have worked diligently to maintain an unimpeded flow of foreign students, that they claim accounts for about 10 percent of their revenues.
More rigorous scrutiny of foreign applicants before they are issued visas, and keeping tabs on those that are admitted, the universities fear, might upset some foreign governments that often pay full freight to place their students on American campuses and make generous contributions to endowment funds. Nobody has wanted to rock the boat by making an issue out of phantom students who use their visas for other purposes so long as the money kept flowing.
Even without the threat of terrorism, these abuses of our immigration laws should make us all feel angry and frustrated. What does it say about our society when some of our biggest corporations maintain official policies of replacing American workers with illegal aliens in order to cut labor costs, and even conspire to smuggle exploitable workers into the country? What does it say about our society that our government turned a blind eye to these abuses for more than a decade, even though there have been countless stories in the media about what has been happening?
The greed that has driven U.S. immigration policy for decades has cost countless workers their livelihoods. It has cost countless more taxpayers untold billions in social costs for education, health care and other services provided to the corporations’ “cheap” workers. And on September 11, lax, or nonexistent enforcement of our immigration laws contributed to one of the greatest catastrophes in our nation’s history.
No one is naïve enough to insist that any policy - including our immigration policy - must be guided solely by high moral principle and the public interest. But it is not too much to expect that it will not be driven entirely by the desires of a few narrow special interests.
Rectifying the conditions that have contributed directly to the sort of abuses alleged in the Tyson Foods case, and indirectly to the attacks of September 11 are a matter of national will. We don’t know who is working in our factories, roaming our college campuses, taking flying lessons, or just living here illegally because we have chosen not to know. We have chosen not to know because we have allowed greed to dictate our immigration policies. Ultimately, there is always a high price to be paid for greed.
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