Thursday, October 18, 2018

An open letter to our elected government

I employ about 20 people at my embroidery company in Eagan.  The majority of them are immigrants from Central and South America and from Cambodia.  It might not surprise you to know that in the 25 years my company has been in business, we have found only a very few reliable U.S.-born employees.  Labor is hard to come by, even when unemployment is high.  My experience has been that U.S. folks don't want to put that full day's worth of work in that justifies their paycheck. 

I work with immigrants.  I am a registered Republican but I do NOT agree with the rather conservative policies that have promoted ICE treatment of our immigrant population.  I have recently had an experience that I doubt you're aware of and I even doubt that you understand just how awful ICE has become.  You see, they don't just pick up 'illegals' or 'undocumented aliens' in this country and they don't use practices that would be remotely accepted if our police forces were to use them.

ICE recently picked up one of my employees.  He was taken by them at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, October 9.  When I arrived at work, my other employees told me that they were afraid the he had been kidnapped.  His car doors were unlocked and his lunch was still sitting inside his car.  I filed a Missing Persons report with our local police and did not find out until late in the day that ICE had taken him.  There was no card, no note or notice and he had no opportunity even to secure his possessions.  His children, who were due to be picked up by him, were not notified nor was their school.  Apparently ICE has the ability to simply make people vanish without notice. 

My employee, who is now residing in the Elk River jail, has legal documentation, a work permit and proof that he is applying for permanent residency.  He has been arrested once for DUI and sadly has a vindictive wife who is trying to get him arrested for violation of OFP.  Yes, the whole truth has to be told.  However, I know them both and we have been working to help him get custody of his children.  The estranged wife has indicated on many occasions that she no longer wants to care for their three children.  She does not work and cannot afford to feed them, by the way.  My employee WAS their sole means of support.  Until ICE took him.

I work with immigrants all day long.  My experience with ICE is short but I will say that they do not represent me or my country.  They seem to have been given a free hand to do everything they can to frighten law abiding people who want nothing more than the opportunity to do the jobs that others won't.  My Irish immigrant forefathers did the same thing, were harassed for it and asked for not much more than equal treatment.  I ask the same for these people.

Aside from the human aspect, think about the economic cost that ICE is building. 

It costs about $90 a day to keep a person in jail.  Oh, they do have to pay for outgoing telephone calls, even if they are local.  They need to have someone on the outside with a credit card who can accept the calls.  But they don't get to keep their phones.  How many phone numbers do you happen to remember? 

In my employee's case, he is the sole support for his three children.  Those children will most likely become wards of the state (they are U.S. citizens).  The oldest is nine years old.  Can you guess the cost to raise three young children when the state takes over?  Astronomical.  Let’s not even consider the social cost since parenting is always suspect in that situation. 

The consequences to this country are far more costly than the cost of time it would take to verify a person, ensure that they are not career criminals and then help them to move forward with their applications for residency and, ultimately, citizenship.  That is what most want.  Unfortunately, the government where you represent me, doesn't care enough to do that.  It's easier to send out a band of vigilantes (ICE) to terrorize people who really are trying hard. 

In my estimation, Congress is failing the very people that you supposedly represent.  One of them is me.  I vote and I will continue to write letters and publicize my opinion regarding your complete and total failure to correct a situation that most of us are asking to have corrected.  Got any plans to do something about the immigration laws?  I hope so.  And I hope that somehow you figure out how to turn the plans into some sort of action. 

Do NOT point fingers and tell me that ‘they’ won’t let us do anything.  In 25 years of business the one thing that I have learned is that if a responsibility is given to me, a result is expected.  Excuses fall on very deaf ears.

Several years ago I wrote to a republican representative in the Minnesota house.  I gave him some research regarding the minimum wage laws and asked for him to consider them.  His first response was to say “Well, the Democrats are in control and there’s nothing I can do”.  I was infuriated.  My reply was that I voted for him and he represented me.  I expected Something out of him.  The very next week he was on television debating a Democratic representative.  No, he did not get a lot done, but he did something.

I’d appreciate if you would do exactly that.  Show me, your constituent, that you can come up with a proposal, that you have an interest in what concerns me every single day and please don’t send me an invitation to tour the White House or Senate floor.  Been there, wasn’t impressed.  I want government, not a bunch of people telling me what they are not capable of doing.