Always be wary of strange bedfellows.
Maine’s premiere big business and big labor organizations are in bed together singing from the same page of leftist folk music — amnesty for illegal immigrants, the so-called Dreamers.
The harmonic convergence of union bosses and captains of industry demanding amnesty for illegals no doubt serves the narrow self-interests of the union hierarchy and corporate CEOs — but it fails to serve the best interests of Mainers.
The amnesty campaign relies on two very weak arguments to convince Congress that beneficiaries of President Barack Obama’s likely unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order should be granted permanent amnesty in the United States.
First, they claim people who arrived in this country illegally as minors are not culpable for having broken the law, and it would be unfair to remove them from the only country they have ever known.
The second talking point against enforcing immigration law is that we’d also be hurting ourselves in the process.
Neither of these shallow, emotion-based arguments stands up to critical scrutiny.
Let’s start with the first false narrative, the fairness argument.
While it may be true that many — but not all — illegal aliens who arrived here as minors were brought by their parents who entered the country illegally, we are not obligated to reward them. And while the son should not be punished for the sins of the father, the absence of a benefit is not the same thing as a punishment.
In fact, it is the parents responsible for bringing the DACA beneficiaries to the U.S. who should be punished — not Maine taxpayers and unemployed or under-employed Maine workers competing for jobs with illegal immigrants.
In all other areas of law, when parents act illegally while placing their children in harm’s way, society holds those parents accountable for the hardships endured — not their neighbors.
If Congress cements Obama’s executive order into statute, the swamp critters in D.C. will be sending a very clear message to the whole world — amnesty and citizenship are yours if you are patient. Sneak across the border with your minor children, and eventually they will enjoy all the rights and benefits of American citizenship.
Mass illegal immigration harms any country that allows it. This truth is universally understood, hence why every nation on Earth has immigration laws. In fact, the U.S. already has some of the most liberal and loose immigration policies you’ll find anywhere across the globe.
Contrary to the cherry-picked anecdotes depicting DACA recipients as valedictorians and first responders, many of the Dreamers demanding amnesty aren’t exactly model citizens. Of the several hundred MS-13 gang members arrested around the country last month, at least a third of the suspects would have been classified as DACA eligible.
Whatever the percentage of bad apples in the DACA barrel, the claim that rejecting amnesty will hurt Maine is absurd on its face.
Those who suggest the long-term viability of our state depends on welcoming people who violate our nation’s immigration laws are not only wrong — but they are insulting the intelligence of Maine people.
Like many states, Maine’s population is aging and our state’s economy has already been harmed by globalization and loss of industry. But the answer to these problems is not more mass immigration. Importing cheap, unskilled labor may be good for big business, and it may boost organized labor’s sagging membership, but it harms Maine people by driving down wages.
The solution lies in refocusing vocational and technical education in Maine; training and transitioning Maine workers for the new digital and robotic economy; and lifting the burdens and barriers on entry to entrepreneurship and sole-proprietorship careers.
As state officials, it is our job to look out for Mainers. It is our duty to make Maine an attractive place for the people and industries that will ensure our long-term prosperity as a state. And it is our responsibility to avoid turning our state into a mecca for low-skilled, low-wage, government-dependent illegal aliens.
We must not allow misplaced compassion and sloppy economic theories to dictate our immigration policies.
And it is high time we stop asking what’s fair to people who are here illegally and start first asking what’s fair for life-long Mainers.
Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, is serving his third term in the Legislature, representing House District 137. He serves on the Labor, Commerce, Research & Economic Development Committee. He is co-founder and president of New England Opportunity Project. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow BDN Editorial & Opinion on Facebook for the latest opinions on the issues of the day in Maine.