True colors

It’s official. Illegal immigration is this election season’s cause célèbre. In the eyes of some, the 20 million or so undocumented immigrants in this country—currently working for wages no U.S. citizen in their right mind is willing to accept—are threatening the American way of life as we know it.

But let’s be frank: This isn’t about illegal immigrants per se. It’s about brown-skinned illegal immigrants. Canadians, Russians and Europeans need not apply. It’s the alleged Mexican menace that’s at issue here.

Recently, House Republicans authored an anti-immigration bill that is perhaps one of the most racist pieces of legislation to come down the pike since the three-fifths compromise. They mean business, these Republicans. But how seriously are they really taking illegal immigration?

At first blush, they seem pretty serious. Renaming the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the dusty old INS, was a masterstroke. “INS” was hardly an inspiring acronym. Something colder, harder, was required. Something like “Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” or ICE for short. Now that sounds badass!

Then Congress chose to place ICE beneath the iron umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security. Brilliant! As we all now know from the Hurricane Katrina experience, it worked wonders for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Has any government organization let more people down with greater efficiency and less accountability than FEMA?

The real purpose of incorporating ICE within Homeland Security was to continue the proud tradition of sweeping real immigration enforcement under the rug. Whenever pesky journalists ask questions such as “Wouldn’t it be more effective to enforce the existing laws prohibiting employers from hiring undocumented workers, like the agricultural and construction industries in Northern California?” ICE officials can politely explain that protecting the fatherland from terrorists is the new priority; there’s just not enough money to go after major political-campaign contributors, er, uh, agribusinesses and developers.

In fact, on the latest ICE fact sheet on worksite enforcement, not one Northern California employer is listed. Perhaps there are no employers using illegal aliens in the region. But what do you think?

As Governor Schwarzenegger pointed out on talk radio last year, “Our federal government is not doing their job.” The governor thinks the Minutemen, those proud citizen-patriots who’ve taken it upon themselves to guard our border with Mexico, are doing a “terrific job.” No doubt he’ll soon cash in on wife Maria Shriver’s Kennedy-clan clout and pull a page out of the JFK playbook, incorporating the following line into all of his campaign stump speeches: “Don’t ask what your country can do for you; ask what you can do to keep illegal aliens out of your country.”

It’s time for a little honesty to be injected into this debate. The Minutemen and those who agree with their cause ought to just wear uniforms in public. We suggest power colors, red and black perhaps. And how about some arm bands? You know, something a little more badass.