Monday, July 05, 2004

"Illegal or Undocumented: It Still Spells ''Slavery''" by Robert Klein�Engler

"Illegal or Undocumented: It Still Spells ''Slavery''" by Robert Klein�Engler
Illegal or Undocumented: It Still Spells ''Slavery''
Written by Robert Klein Engler
Monday, July 05, 2004

A discussion about immigration sometimes ends in an argument over terminology and definitions. Liberals want to use the term ''undocumented workers'' to talk about what conservatives know to be simply illegal immigrants. Perhaps we might end our war of words and agree on a new term that better describes what is happening in America because of the huge influx of immigrants. I propose we go back and use the perfectly good word ''slave.'' Illegal immigrants are in fact the slaves of 21st Century America.

Many employers want illegal immigrants or undocumented workers for the very fact that they are illegal or undocumented. It is their illegal or undocumented status that makes them fit to be slaves. If you don't think this is true, then consider these statistics (U. S. Department of Justice and Labor--Worker Exploitation Task Force):

''In April 1999, seven defendants were sentenced to jail and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution for enslaving dozens of Mexican women and girls, some as young as fourteen, in brothel houses in Florida and the Carolinas, through beatings, rapes, and threats.''

''In the summer of 2000, a Nigerian couple was convicted of slavery and other offenses for holding a young girl as a domestic servant in their home in New York City.''

Stories about the new slavery also appear in the press and online. reported for November 21, 2002, that ''Three citrus contractors were sentenced to prison terms...for enslaving undocumented farm workers...the men were convicted in June of involuntary servitude, harboring undocumented workers, interfering with interstate commerce by extortion, and using a firearm. Brothers Ramiro and Juan Ramos employed more than 700 farm laborers, many of them undocumented immigrants from Mexico.''

These examples of the new slavery in the U. S. demonstrate that there are many similarities between the abolitionist movement before the War Between the Sates and those who oppose immigration today. Likewise, just as the Republican Party under the leadership of President Lincoln freed the slaves then, so now, this same party ought to take the lead in freeing the so called undocumented workers from the slavery that is the consequence of uncontrolled and illegal immigration.

U.S. society will face a crisis equal to another civil war if it does not deal now with the problem of illegal immigration. Shortsighted businessmen may turn a profit for their companies by employing the new slaves, but in the long term both these businessmen and their companies will suffer. Furthermore, the country itself will be caught in the throes of an upheaval tomorrow that is preventable today. We must emancipate the new slaves as we did the old ones.

The best way to this emancipation is by sending illegal workers back to where they came from and by enforcing our immigration laws. To free the slaves of the 21st Century, you must return them and then prevent employers from corralling new ones. A policy that emphasizes the 3 Ds of homeland security, will do just that: Detect, Detain, and Deport.

Deporting illegal immigrants may seem to lack compassion, but is slavery more compassionate? Compassion for our own citizens dictates also that we stop illegal immigration and then turn our attention to all forms of immigration. Those who seek justice and human rights for illegal immigrants should also seek the same for present and future

U.S. citizens whose lives are washed aside by this human tidal wave.

If we want to stop a repeat of slavery in the U.S. and do something about human rights for both undocumented workers and our citizens, then we must stop illegal immigration and repair our broken borders. Secure borders will secure human rights for everyone.

About the Writer: Robert Klein Engler is an adjuct professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago, and a versatile writer of op-ed articles, poetry, and philosophy. His newest book, "A Winter of Words," is available from


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