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Immigrant issues from wall to work
By Edward Peeks for the Charleston Gazette-Mail, 2/18/08

The Allied Construction Trades Foundation runs a TV commercial that says illegal aliens are taking jobs from West Virginians. It's apparent to the viewer that illegals are working for less to the advantage of those who employ them.

Curiously, this commercial complaint - featuring a bricklayer - and similar complaints come after the Legislature passed a new immigration bill last year with the aim to fix the problem.

It threatens bricklayers and other craftsmen, the warning goes. It intensifies concern about unskilled illegals crowding the labor market in the country, their families overtaxing community services and their children overrunning the schools.

Nonetheless, West Virginia and other central Appalachian states have had no influx of undocumented workers like California or Florida. But the problem, real and fancied, has a national impact.

Truth to tell, there are those who say that most hotels and restaurants between Nevada and New York, as the case in these two states, would collapse were the estimated 12 million undocumented workers shipped back to Mexico.

Still, some lawmakers and commentators insist that there's no need for these workers. True, there are dishwashing machines and rollaway beds, but they require human hands and heads to be of service. Robots are not here yet to replace them. They are closer to replacing coal miners.

For another matter, the immigration problem is unlikely to be fixed by a fence or wall separating the borders. In fact, the idea smacks of the Berlin Wall and similar past barriers reeking more of political ideology than of a practical fix for a practical problem.

Admittedly, borders should be secure against terrorists and drug trafficking. But fences and walls are no substitute for laws and personnel with resources to enforce them.
New policy reports foreign-born inmates to immigration officials
AP, 2/8/08

LEXINGTON, Ky. A new policy in Fayette County to report all foreign-born jail inmates to federal immigration officials has some immigrants scared and confused.

Immigrant advocates says people have closed bank accounts, moved to other towns and kept their children out of school for fear they or relatives will be deported.

The unwritten policy began on Feb. 1.

A spokeswoman for the mayor says during booking, jail officers ask anyone arrested if they were born in the United States.

Deputies then send a daily report to immigration officials on all foreign-born inmates.