A few things struck me about the 60 Minutes‘ piece on Lou Barletta (the mayor of Hazelton, PA) and his anti-immigrant legislation. First, and most obviously, he is unconcerned that the laws asks employers and landlords to become vigilantes, taking the law into their hands to achieve his crusade. Two, he is unconcerned that his legislation has produced a backlash against all immigrants, not just illegal immigrants (thus it can rightly be called anti-immigrant). Not only are businesses that serve the Spanish-speaking community closing up, they are being threatened to do so. When asked if his legislation undermined all immigrants regardless of origin, he only professed the righteousness of anti-immigration policy. He is perfectly comfortable with legal immigrants being harmed.

The third thing that I noted was that formula: if they are here illegally, they have no right to be here. One of Hazelton’s citizens said this in an interview in a cafe. Is her logic, so simple, shared by so many, really valid?

If I drive illegally, do I have no right to drive? If I drink illegally, do I have no right to drink? If I have sex illegally, do I have no right to sex? None of those questions has a direct answer. Most traffic violations are either overlooked, or receive light penalies. In extreme cases, a driver’s license can be revoked. Drinking underage does not suspend one’s right to drink after age 21. And in many cases, laws against sodomy–aimed at homosexuals–were allowed to lapse into oblivion, unenforced, even if they remained on the books.

Doing X illegally does not preclude one from continuing to, or doing so in the future. Indeed, there is a whole list of legislation that is enforced unevenly, at best. Many such laws are misdemeanors, not felonies. And immigrating to the US illegally is not a felony.

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