Opinion

O’BRIEN: Illegal Immigration Advocates Use Economic Warfare To Subvert Immigration Law

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There is a new trend emerging amongst those who don’t like our immigration laws but can’t gain enough political support to change them — economic warfare. And it’s hurting local businesses that employ both Americans and lawfully-present migrants.

The United States is a nation with a long history of welcoming law-abiding immigrants. And, when immigrants break our laws, we attempt to take into account any relevant mitigating circumstances. In order to do this, we have a dedicated immigration court system – complete with its own appellate tribunal — and its decisions are subject to additional review in federal district courts and federal courts of appeal. In short, foreign nationals facing deportation get second chances, and due process, by the truckload.

But there are those who see any kind of immigration enforcement as being unfair or constituting a “human rights violation.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently made the bizarre statement that a violation of immigration status is not a valid reason to deport illegal aliens. And Amnesty International has ridiculously claimed due process “does not apply” to the immigration detention system.

These purveyors of immigration absurdism are increasingly engaging in questionable tactics in order to prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from applying our immigration laws and protecting the American public. Chief among those sketchy strategies is punishing companies that either cooperate with ICE investigations or do business with ICE.

The American Civil Liberties Union has repeatedly attacked Greyhound Bus Lines. The so-called “civil rights” organization has demanded that Greyhound ask U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to produce a search warrant before it searches buses and bus stations. However, CBP has explicit authorization to search conveyances and transportation hubs near the border. And it does so to detect illegal aliens, drug smugglers and other threats to public safety.

Thus, the ACLU has engaged in brazen attempts to mislead the public by implying that Greyhound, which did nothing other than comply with the lawful orders of federal law enforcement agents, is biased against migrants. Of course, that’s not even close to the truth. Many of Greyhound’s bus stations are located in immigrant neighborhoods.

Similarly, Motel 6 was targeted by the state of Washington’s attorney general for ostensibly engaging in national origin discrimination, because it cooperated with ICE investigations into hotel guests who were flagrantly violating U.S. immigration laws. In reality, Motel 6 wasn’t “discriminating” against anyone. Rather, ICE was exercising its valid authority to differentiate between those whose national origin is American, and all others. That distinction is the very basis of citizenship in the modern nation state and it is recognized everywhere in the world. But the Evergreen State’s attorney general wasn’t interested in the truth or the relevant law: The goal was to portray ICE as fascist thugs and Motel 6 as a collaborator.

The King County, Washington airport authority has also jumped on the bandwagon. Based on its claim that deportation raises “human rights concerns,” King County is attempting to prohibit aviation support companies from servicing any ICE deportation flights at its local airport. That claim is absurd. ICE operates under detention and transportation regulations that are much stricter than those applicable to any state corrections agency.

As a result, trespassing foreign nationals, with no right to be in the U.S., frequently wind up being treated better in ICE custody than U.S. citizens, in local jails, who stand accused of very minor crimes. Nevertheless, like the ACLU and the Washington attorney general, King County cares about its open-borders narrative, not the truth.

These actions are nothing less than an extortion racket, worthy of old-time movie gangsters. It is wildly inappropriate for either non-profit legal assistance organizations or state and local government entities to slander law-abiding companies for simply obeying the law or for doing legitimate business with the federal government. What’s more, if a company is dependent upon contracts with ICE, then forcing it to abandon a profitable customer just leads to Americans losing jobs.

So the key question is, “Once this type of economic warfare starts, where does it end?” Today it’s a county airport authority interfering with a private company’s right to contract with ICE, in order to change our immigration laws. Who’s to say that tomorrow it won’t be the state of Massachusetts pressuring Smith & Wesson to stop selling handcuffs to the New York Police Department because it doesn’t approve of the Big Apple’s traffic enforcement policies?

Simply put, allowing partisan nonprofits or state and local governments to subvert American federalism — the supremacy of federal law, the authority of the president and Congress to set foreign policy, and the flow of interstate commerce — via economic warfare is a slippery slope the United States can’t afford to cascade down.

A cease and desist letter sent to King County by the Department of Transportation was a good start at curbing the aforementioned abuses. But it’s time for the Trump administration to begin asserting federal authority as a check against those who would weaponize our economy to achieve their preferred social policies.

Matt O’Brien is director of research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a nonprofit group advocating for legal immigration.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller