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Hope for the new year: Truth about a political lobby

December 31, 2010 - Mike Maneval
An Associated Press article this week concerning how the newly elected congress may address immigration policy is missing some information. Whether the negligence is merely oversight or deference run amok, I can not judge.

The article discusses e-verify, the computer database used by federal contractors to check the immigration status of employees. The article quotes Beto Cardenas, executive counsel to Americans for Immigration Reform, who says "I've already told the business community it's going to happen."

The article, unfortunately, does not offer much context for the quote; Not once does the author explain that a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a group whose desire for lower wages for every worker outside of the financial and administrative sectors supercedes any and all other issues, including border security and respect for the rule of law, has for about two and a half years been the principal obstacle to expanding e-verify to all employers.

While I fully accept the possibility the journalist who wrote this article neglected to examine the Chamber's hostility to immigration enforcement due to the pressures of deadline and an abundance of other sources and material to use - I've certainly been there before - the incident still recalls a myriad of examples of how this political lobby, with its agenda, is frequently mislabeled as a benign community group.

A story from shortly before the congressional elections provides a rich example of this phenomenon. After President Barack Obama noted the chamber pulls revenue from foreign sources, neither the president nor other critics of the organization, nor the watchdog media, took full advantage of the development to examine either the Chamber's interference with e-verify and border security, or the 15 years, roughly, it has spent lobbying for slavery.

Not metaphorical slavery, or figurative slavery; The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has stridently fought proposed disclosure requirements for American corporations whose foreign production lines use enslaved POWs taken in Africa's numerous civil wars. The flash-point for the issue has been the chocolate industry, though diamond and gold mining have been implicated as well.

A national discourse that recognizes a political lobby so hostile to the value of work that it'd collaborate with slave traders and sue to prevent immigration enforcement as such, and not as a federation of neighborhood coffee klatches, would benefit the country greatly in the new year. Yet events not only before the 2010 election but this very week reveal little cause for optimism on this point.


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