Opinion » Letters

A wall is not the answer


A few months ago there was a large demonstration against Immigration and Customs Enforcement beginning in SLO and ending at the new ICE facility in Santa Maria, which only processes convicted criminal illegal aliens for deportation upon their release from the Lompoc Federal Penitentiary, state prisons like the SLO Men's Colony, and county jails. This ICE facility does not plan nor conduct immigration sweeps, like raids, on places reported to be employing illegal aliens. Therefore, those participating in the demonstration didn't know what they were demonstrating against, only the evil and wicked ICE. The Oxnard facility is the closest one that does conduct sweeps. They are two different departments.

As we, the opposition, walked among them asking questions, we determined that they wanted convicted criminal illegal aliens to be able to stay here. One demonstrator told me that many of these deported undocumented workers, regardless of their criminal backgrounds, have families here and American-born children who need a father as well as a breadwinner. Another told me and the counterdemonstrators that the welfare payments their American-born children were entitled to receive wasn't enough to adequately raise a child here.

All of this reminds me of the Cesar Chavez birthday demonstration in Santa Maria and elsewhere in favor of another unworkable amnesty about 10 years ago. This demonstration was conducted by students of two big overcrowded high schools in Santa Maria, as Santa Maria High school was under a lockdown to prevent students from leaving their classrooms. Most of these students, if not all, didn't know what they were marching for, nor did they know that Chavez was strongly opposed to illegal immigration, because it lowered the wages of farmworkers in our Central Valley. He only agreed to support the 1986 amnesty after it was promised to be the last and final amnesty. Don't politicians lie? California Gov. Jerry Brown once said that they all lie. They have to get elected.

Illegal immigration is the most lopsided political issue of modern time, with all legitimate polls showing from 87 to 91 percent of Americans opposed to it. Why can't Americans get our Congress to do something about it? The answer is that the cheap labor lobbies are too strong, especially some of our farm organizations, and the Catholic Church, which likes illegal immigration for another reason. Nixon once said that in order to learn the truth you need to follow the money, and that applies in this case, because today congressional votes on lobby interests can be bought and sold like a commodity.

Making e-verify mandatory to prevent illegal workers from working here is the only answer, not a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexican border. For farmworkers, there is the H-2A Visa Program to bring our needed farm labor here legally.

Richard Dydell

Santa Maria

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