VIRGINIA BEACH, August 12, 2012 – Riding your bike along Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront is joyful. The tourists are happy and engaged. Many times I imagine that I am back in the Navy, visiting an exotic place like India, Sri Lanka or Mauritius, locations where the faces look different from mine.
Except for the smiles. A smile is still a smile regardless of the skin and it is infectious.
The people at the Oceanfront riding the carriage bikes with family and friends make me think of days gone by. Some spend their life savings just for the opportunity to vacation in America, and I love to watch them enjoying their time here.
Just being around happy people is good for the soul.
The construction sites remind me of something entirely different: that we still encourage illegal immigrants to work in our town, even during a recession that will probably change America for many years. English-to-Spanish signs, required for safety, are posted in hard-hat areas and they seem to scream, “We know that some of the workers don’t speak our native tongue.”
How could this be? Citizens of America speak English, don’t they?
After the deaths in 2007 of my daughter, Tessa Tranchant, and her friend Ally Kunhardt by an illegal immigrant who was driving drunk, many city leaders did damage control, either jumping on the Sanctuary City bus or denying that such a term existed in our bustling community.
The national media enlightened many to what the term meant, and the city fathers had to take a stand.
Many denied that Virginia Beach protected illegal immigrants by not enforcing federal immigration laws. Others simply didn’t make eye contact with the 5 a.m. laborers that showed up at the 7-11s and WA WA stores to get their day’s supply of liquids and food.
I am not an immigration and customs official, merely a citizen who thinks we need to hire Americans and support the workforce with our own. Cheap labor has a negative ripple effect that shows little social responsibility on behalf of the wage payer or the government officals that look the other way.
We all pay in the long run.
It’s true: Roofing and plastering is tough work in 100-degree heat, and it’s hard to find a good crew to stick it out. But our fathers and grandfathers did the work, so I think our sons can do it as well. We just need to make sure the jobs, at a decent wage, are available to them.
This is about jobs for Americans, the legitimate right to have buy-in to this great country.
Laws haven’t changed in enforcing immigration violations, an illegal is still an illegal and it is still illegal to hire them.
True, the president has an executive order that offers opportunities for young non-documented foreigners, but that is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about adult men willing to work for less while being paid “under the table.”
The current administration is myopic when it comes to enforcing immigration laws. Since 2009 the waters have been so muddied by Homeland Security that last week Union heads of ICE admitted to the press that they are confused as to who to detain and who to deport.
ICE confused over who they should arrest and deport? The ripple effect is that most law enforcement is confused as well! The worst thing for boots on the ground officers to have is an indecisive leadership.
Every day they go to work to do their jobs well, not to guess who they should, or should not, arrest.
The Executive Office uses the Justice Department to place pressure on states and agencies that want strict enforcement. And while this is seen as a national problem, we could enact change if politicians and job providers only hired those legal to work in our own homes and towns.
I will never support our government allowing open borders or shady deals to legitimize citizenship; not for me or my legitimate immigrant family. We will have nothing to do with amnesty. Not now. Not ever.
Ray Tranchant, who lives in Virginia Beach, is a retired naval officer, professor at Cambridge College and an administrator at Tidewater Community College.
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