Immigration: The ICEmen Cometh

April 24th, 2006 by

To hell with the truth! As the history of the world proves, the truth has no bearing on anything. It’s irrelevant and immaterial, as the lawyers say. The lie of a pipe dream is what gives life to the whole misbegotten mad lot of us, drunk or sober. (The Iceman Cometh, Act I)
The recent surge of activity by agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) brought to mind Eugene O’Neill’s 1939 play, The Iceman Cometh. The ICE men and women recently raided IFCO, a manufacturer of pallets and pallet systems, arresting a number of managers and, most notably, somewhere around 1,100 illegal immigrants who were working for the company. (Read more at working immigrants here.) ICE has about 325 agents across the country. If this enforcement crew were to arrest 1,100 illegals a month (not likely, as it takes a long time to set up the bust), it would take them over 10,000 years to clean up the problem. That timeframe would probably satisfy the many people who fear the solutions more than the problem.
IFCO’s press release following the arrests states that the allegations are “counter to everything we stand for.” Well, we must assume, not quite everything. Ironically, they manufacture pallets for the harvesting industry, products used by thousands of undocumented migrant workers toiling in fields across America.
We all know what the problem is: we have about 12 million undocumented workers throughout the country. Most are working, providing a wealth of services in jobs that native born Americans seem reluctant to undertake. Because they are illegal, they function for the most part as second class workers, with limited benefits, lower wages and few protections. Their relatively inexpensive labor is a huge boon to our economy. So while some clamor to throw them out, others say let them stay and become citizens. Either solution would result in substantially higher costs for doing business.
Wink Wink
Given the downside of both proposed solutions, the Insider’s guess is that we will muddle along with no significant changes. Congress will debate the issue endlessly, but will likely conclude, as they have done so far this year, that doing nothing is easier than doing something. Thousands of illegal immigrants will continue to slip through our porous borders every month. Millions of undocumented workers will continue to function with substandard wages and benefits, all the while fearing the day the ICEmen cometh. It’s business as usual, wink wink, with no one quite willing to confront reality. We are living the lie that “gives life to the whole misbegotten mad lot of us.” Perhaps the notion that we could actually fix this enormous problem is the biggest pipe dream of all. That’s a sobering thought, indeed.