The list grows longer – Bernard Kerik, Zoe Baird, Kimba Wood, Linda Chavez – all were felled in their political ascendancy by the revelation that a household employee or member lacked valid immigration papers. Just as Superman learned that the base metal, lead, could protect him from Kryptonite’s debilitating rays, politicians must recognize that immigration toxicity needs an immediate antidote.
If the immigration law supposes that we should disqualify worthy candidates for government service because they solved their pressing childcare needs by hiring or housing an undocumented nanny, then paraphrasing Charles Dickens, the law is “a ass, a idiot.”
Ironically, the subject came up in Los Angeles this week in a debate on talk radio (KNX-AM 1070’s The Business Hour), two days before Mr. Kerik’s disclosure of probable immigration violations and his resignation as President Bush’s nominee as the nation’s top immigration cop, the Secretary of the Homeland Security Department.
I squared off against Ira Mehlman, Media Director of the immigration-restrictionist group, FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. I maintained that America needs a practical solution to the reality that eight- to ten-million undocumented immigrants are not idle wastrels but are busy serving our nation’s vital needs, and filling jobs that otherwise go begging. Two of my examples: nanny-care and elder-care for the two-income Boomer couples who are the money-earning “meat” sandwiched between their young children and their aging and increasingly needy parents.
Mr. Mehlman’s pat answer: People need to learn that “there is no constitutional right to employ an illegal nanny.” To Mr. Mehlman, I now reply: Yes, but there is a constitutional right to petition government to change our laws so that they address our economic needs and support our family values. The time is now to decriminalize the act of hiring a hard-working, caring person to change our children’s diapers or our parents’ Depends, while we work to get our little bit of the American Dream.
Next month, Congress is already committed to addressing the immigration provisions stripped from the Intelligence Restructuring legislation. Early signals suggest that only draconian proposals, like new limits on drivers’ licenses for aliens and more kangaroo-court asylum law changes, are up for discussion. President Bush, it seems, will learn from newly-feisty House Republicans that his immigration guest-worker program is not yet a proper subject for parliamentary debate.
Perhaps Mr. Kerik’s “déjà vu all over again” resignation is just the wake up call we need to decriminalize America’s Boomers and the caregivers from abroad who help our families make it in a demanding economy. While it may be too late to revive Bernard Kerik’s fallen nomination from demise by immigration-kryptonite, let’s get a vaccine developed to destroy the immigration poison once and for all. This is not a job for the FDA; no, its up to us to tell Congress to fix the sorry immigration system and make it serve our needs and uphold our tradition as a caring, humane nation.