March 7, 2007

New Bedford Illegals

Marc Comtois

The raid on the Michael Bianco leather plant in New Bedford is making national headlines. There can be no doubt that the company's illegal actions were reprehensible:

The plant’s owner, Francesco Insolia, and managers “knowingly and actively” recruited increasing numbers of illegal workers to meet demands of multiple Department of Defense contracts since 2001. In 2004, the company received an $82-million defense contract, according to allegations in the affidavits filed in support of search warrants executed yesterday. More than 500 people work at the Bianco plant.
And, despite the emotional testimonials of illegal workers being broadcast nationwide, we can't forget that they are here illegally. In fact, embedded in the intended-to-be heart-wrenching anecdotes about the workers and their children is evidence of why we should be concerned:
Advocacy workers rushed to the scene to deliver prescription medications for detained plant workers who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes and epilepsy.

Acting on information that most of the detained workers were women, the advocacy group representatives said they were working through New Bedford public school authorities and contacting day-care centers and private day-care operators, to ensure that children would be safely retrieved.

“Our main concern is for the children,” said Helena Marques, executive director of the Immigrants Assistance Center. “My concern is that a lot of people [arrestees] are women, and they have children. We are trying to get information to the schools and day-care centers.”

How did illegal immigrants get prescription drugs? Why are the children of illegal immigrants enrolled in public schools? Yes, I have compassion for their plight. Yes, they were victimized--and aided and abetted--by a despicable company (not to mention the Social Services sector and their advocates). But they are still here illegally and they've broken the law.

And how many of those jobs could have employed American citizens, including a few Rhode Islanders? There were a few bills proposed in the House this session, but H5367 has been "held for further study" in committee (H 5392 is still in committee).

UPDATE: Commenter Rhody reminds me of something I forget to include:

What I want to know is: how the @#$% did a government contractor which employs illegal immigrants (and treats them in ways that, to put it mildly, explain why we have unions in America) get away with this as long as it did? The heads which need to roll are not confined to this factory's walls.
Thanks Rhody, you've got that right!

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What I want to know is: how the @#$% did a government contractor which employs illegal immigrants (and treats them in ways that, to put it mildly, explain why we have unions in America) get away with this as long as it did?
The heads which need to roll are not confined to this factory's walls.

Posted by: Rhody at March 7, 2007 11:37 AM

It's a good question, Rhody. Go ask the owner of Ira Green, Inc. on Georgia Ave in Cranston how he continues to get away with employing 200 illegal aliens to make Purple Hearts and other medals and insignia for our military men and women.

Posted by: Greg at March 7, 2007 11:46 AM

Unfortunately they don't have the space to hold these illegals while they appeal deportation. That process will take 6 months. I'll wager they held off on this raid till they had adequate bedspace in INS detention facilities (or INS approved facilities).

In a region the size of New England they could probably build a holding facility with 5,000 beds and it would be at capacity year round.

If the INS went into overdrive to clean up this problem they would quickly saturate available facilities and cause overcrowding problems in state and local prisons that also hold INS detainees.

Quite frankly if I had the funding I would build a private facility in the area and contract the beds to INS.

Posted by: jtel at March 7, 2007 1:56 PM

Looks like we have our next raid, Greg.

I commend the feds in the highest terms for carrying out this investigation and enforcement action. I am sorry to see these undocumented employees detained and temporarily separated from their children. But our only mistake has been to slack off on enforcement for 8-10 years, enabling predatory companies like Michael Bianco to grow their illegal and exploitative operations, which in turn enticed undocumented immigrants to come here for illegal jobs.

The solution to illegal immigration is not an unnecessary set of new laws (i.e., the Kennedy-McCain amnesty bill) but continual enforcement of existing laws against companies that hire undocumenteds including, if necessary, raids like these.

Posted by: SusanD at March 7, 2007 2:04 PM

If only, Susan... I've contacted ICE, FBI, the troopers, the press... Nobody cares.

Posted by: Greg at March 7, 2007 2:10 PM

So the GOP Bush/Cheney admin. gave this two-bit company a $82,000,000 contract

Posted by: Jay at March 7, 2007 3:03 PM

"So the GOP Bush/Cheney admin. gave this two-bit company a $82,000,000 contract"


Posted by: SusanD at March 7, 2007 3:36 PM

Illegal Aliens are such a huge problem but no one seems to really want to do anything about it. I enjoyed the mayor of New Bedford appealing to the national government to fix the problem because he doesn't want to do anything to anger his constituents.
Unions should actually be at the forefront of this mess as these illegals work for meager wages that drive down the ability for other laborors to get good paying jobs. The best way to increase the minimum wage is to get rid of these people and force companies to pay honest legal Americans a competitive wage.

Posted by: jdex at March 8, 2007 1:25 PM

Exactly, jdex. Illegals drive down wages and take jobs from American rank and file union members - you know, guys, the people who pay you lots and lots of union dues? The labor union bosses' silence on illegal immigration is inexplicable.

Posted by: SusanD at March 8, 2007 9:07 PM

>>The labor union bosses' silence on illegal immigration is inexplicable.

Actually the unions - led by SEIU - are organizing illegals left and right.

What better target for a professional union organizer than unsophisticated people working in lousy conditions - ripe for exploitation by union organizers who "promise" them a better life - "all you have to do is sign this union authorization card."

Of course, this hurts American workers - in particular existing American union members.

But when you get right down to it the union bosses could give a rat's behind about American workers - the union boss' lifestyle is dependent upon the stream of dues revenue, and they are looking at the numbers - dues money from illegals is just as green as dues money from anyone else.

Cynicism and hypocrisy at its finest.

Posted by: Tom W at March 9, 2007 3:19 PM

Here's something both sides of this debate can agree on: encourage the union movement in India, where many of our jobs have disappeared to. That will provide corporations a disincentive to offshore.
Indian tech support workers don't get paid enough to listen to abusive Americans!

Posted by: Rhody at March 10, 2007 6:12 PM

I am sorry about these children of illegal aliens, however they are illegal. When one committs a crime, and one goes to jail, arrangements hae to be made for those children as well.

It is tough, but their parents put them in that position!

Posted by: ASBESTOS at March 11, 2007 6:08 PM
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