21 September 2006

Brown Menace B.S. (UPDATED)

Welcome to the strange world of immigration law, where the absurdity is the norm. I'm talking, of course, about the latest immigration enforcement raid that swept up 120 construction workers at a big military housing project at Buckley Air Force base.

The Rocky even managed to find a gag line for its story:

Keith Puhlman, a senior vice president at Investment Builders, said he was "shocked" that illegal immigrants were working on the project.

Puhlman's claim is so laughable, you have to wonder if he was sarcastically quoting Casabalanca, rather than being serious. Undocumented construction workers? In Colorado? Who could have ever imagined that something like that could happen? As the Rocky notes in another part of its coverage:

Undocumented workers account, by some estimates, for half the workers on many construction jobs.

The statements made by government officials commenting on the motives for the raid were no less bizzare, despite the fact that they were accepted uncritically by the Rocky. The notion that these workers are a security risk is a joke.

Immigration agents arrested at least 120 undocumented workers who were building houses for Buckley Air Force Base on Wednesday - part of a nationwide crackdown on illegal immigrants who could pose a security risk to the nation's "critical infrastructure facilities."

The current system is undoubtably corrupt. But, 116 Mexicans and 4 Central Americans building houses, in a part of a military base not yet incorporated with the secure portion of the spy satellite hub, are not a threat to national security.

In any case, if anyone seriously believed that one or more of the men were spies, no doubt passing on covert information about American building codes or the location of satellite dishes that can be seen from miles away or bugging military housing, the stupidest thing in the world that immigration enforcement officers (their agency is known by the acronym ICE) could do is what they did, which was to put 98 of them (all put 3 who were facing outstanding warrants, 4 from Central America, and a few others) on buses straight back to Mexico, without so much as a debriefing on their activites.

Anyone who genuinely thinks Mexican construction workers without work permits are a threat to national security is so paranoid he probably puts cornflakes in his hallways at night to detect the people who he thinks are watching him, freaks out about black helicopters coming to get him, and wears a tin foil hat. Guys like that need to be on medication, not in charge of large government agencies.

While it is generally preferrable to assume people are stupid, before claiming that they are acting maliciously, I have too much faith in the federal government's civil service exams and merit system of hiring to believe that the ICE officials in this case are anything other than mendacious in their claim that this raid had anything to do with military security risks. I have a hard time believing that men like Douglas L. Maurer, Denver field office director in charge of detention and removal for ICE, are really that stupid.

Also, while three of the men had outstanding warrants, that number actually sounds pretty low for any random sample of 120 construction workers.

I can almost believe that some potential terrorist or spy might cross the Rio Grande to enter the United States, except for the fact that I can't recall a single case where a would be terrorist, actual terrorist or spy did so. But, even if he did, the notion that building houses on a military base would somehow be part of such a person's evil scheme is grossly implausible.

Sure, it's ICE's job to find people who are working without proper documentation and deport them. And, raiding large construction projects might very well be a high visibility, efficient way to do their job. But, please, ICE, don't add to national hysteria by creating a Mexican terrorist construction worker menance out of thin air. Absurdity belongs in the theater, not in immigration enforcement.

UPDATE: The Rocky notes the questionable nature of the national security claim today.


Dave Barnes said...

I could not even read the article in today's Post as it started off with inaccuracies.

The facilities (that is, the "golf balls"--the only thing anyone cares about at Buckley) are not military. They belong to a civilian agency--the NSA (aka the spooks).

I have a diffcult time imagining relatively illiterate Mexicans operating the complex gear that would be required to extract information from a "Tempest" site. Perhaps the new weapon of the Chinese/Russians/French is the burrito lunch.

The biggest threat to security at Buckley are the 3 Chinese moles working inside the fence--not the construction workers outside.


Anonymous said...

While the national security claim is laughable, I still applaud the raid. How many legal workers could have been employed on that job? Is the employer going to be prosecuted? Will the contract be cancelled?