Sanctuary City Philadelphia took another step Thursday toward writing its own immigration law, in conflict with long-standing federal law. It's as if Philly thinks it is a Greek City State free from federal regulation. Are we Athens?
With a non-binding resolution (which means it's just a toothless, feel-good action) City Council supported "every person's right to earn a living, regardless of immigration status."
There is no such right. That notion is not just harebrained, it is criminal. Under federal law, only people here legally have the privilege of a job, and they need a permit for that. Even legal visitors have no "right" to work without permission. Employers are prohibited from hiring the undocumented.
Immigration law was passed by Congress and if you don't like it, go to Congress to change it. That's how democracy works. You don't ignore it or rewrite it. The Council resolution didn't reference U.S. law or the U.S. Constitution. It instead cited the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We're all Globalists, now.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment on Council's action, but a spokesman said, "ICE will continue to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.
"However," he added, "all of those in violation of immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention, and if found removable by final order, removal from the United States."
What does the resolution mean to Philadelphians? Every job that goes to someone here illegally is a job that won't go to an American. Philadelphia's unemployment rate stands at close to 6 percent, and the number of undocumented workers is increasing in Pennsylvania, according to Pew Research.
Do not believe the undocumented are doing only jobs "Americans won't do." That is a diversion, and a myth, and denigrates American workers.
In Pennsylvania, 128,950 jobs are held by the undocumented, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform. It's true that farming accounts for the largest single group. 26 percent according to Pew Research. That is followed by 15 percent in construction, 9 percent in production, 9 in service, 6 in production and 5 percent other. The 26 percent in farming is dwarfed by the 39 percent in everything from home building to restaurants to jobs in hospitals and hotels.
The last two lower-paid categories include jobs held by African Americans and other minorities.
Sanctuary City Athens — oops, Philadelphia — wants to have it both ways. While it refuses to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying that immigration is a federal responsibility, it subverts federal authority with the resolution. The resolution is a measure of the touchy-feeliness of where Council stands regarding established U.S. law — except for the three Republicans, David Oh, Al Taubenberger and Brian O'Neill. This is not as partisan as it seems, because the Democrats on Council also ignored President Obama and Mayor Rendell, each of whom called Sanctuary Cities a bad idea, while former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called them illegal.
Every vote in favor of workers here illegally is a vote against American workers and legal immigrants.
The idea was expressed by Taubenberger, the son of an immigrant who spoke German when he arrived, legally, and worked as a dishwasher.
He is, of course, for immigration, but legal immigration.
Before Council voted, it heard stories from some of the undocumented about how they were exploited by employers. The employers ought to be prosecuted, but those here illegally put themselves in jeopardy.
It is part of the American ethos to be welcoming to immigrants. That's one of the things that make us who we are. But the other ethos, as expressed by Obama, is that we are a nation of laws. We can no more tolerate a jurisdiction ignoring immigration law than we could ignoring housing law.
It is not "hate," not "discrimination" not "xenophobia" to insist that people who want to join the American family come here the right way, legally.