Friday, May 26, 2006

Sensenbrenner’s Credibility Problem on Immigration

F. Jim Sensenbrenner has commanded a lot of national attention over the last several months because of his harsh proposals concerning immigration. His tough talk has seemed to increase with time.

To give him some credit, Sensenbrenner has not just been threatening illegal immigrants but has also been calling out the companies that illegally employ them. A few of his recent comments are as follows:

In a Friday press conference , reacting to the passage of the Senate immigration bill, Sensenbrenner stated that the first two things that we need to do are “border security and employer enforcement.”

When speaking about a handful of other countries and their strict immigration laws, Sensenbrenner said he was particularly impressed by Japan's employer-sanction laws - a maximum of three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

He then used some of the most pugnacious language during an interview on Sunday Mornings' Face the Nation. On this program he commented:

Well, first of all, we shouldn't be very sympathetic to employers who are hiring large numbers of illegal immigrants and paying them very low wages and exploiting them. Those folks are the 21st-century slave masters, and what they're doing is just as immoral as what the 19th-century slave masters did that we had to fight a civil war to get rid of.

Wow, such aggressive language from Sensenbrenner! I wonder if any aggressive actions will follow his rhetoric. This seems very unlikely in the case of at least one large corporation. You see, F. Jim Sensenbrenner revealed in his latest financial disclosure that he owns between $50,000 and $100,000 in Halliburton stock. Now how does his owning this stock affect the employer sanction talk and the immigration debate? Because Halliburton was caught red handed using illegal immigrants for Katrina cleanup. Where was Sensenbrenner’s tough talk when that scandal was revealed? Did he take any action at all?

It was he that compared these kinds of companies to the “slave masters” of old. Taking his own argument to it’s obvious conclusion, does that make F. Jim Sensenbrenner an investor in the “slave trade”? Does he support tough employer sanctions, but only when he has no economic interest in it?

If he wants people to take his outrage on immigration seriously, then he must practice what he preaches. Divesting his interests in Halliburton would be a good start.

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