Should We Lead with Our Hearts or Our Heads?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I'm going to try to come in at about 800. I took a look at the front page of a major Dallas newspaper and saw a photo of 2 Hispanic women and a 9-year-old Hispanic girl hugging each other and crying as they celebrated the decision by Federal District Court Judge Susan Bolton to block some portions of the Arizona immigration law. It couldn't be more obvious that the photo was used in order to pull at the heartstrings of every decent American.

It certainly caused me to choke up for a few minutes because the look on their faces made me feel like an ogre for supporting the Arizona law. It's difficult to take a stand on a subject that causes pain to others; we all like to believe that the decisions we make are based on sound moral judgment. Yet, when we see the tear-stained faces of women and children, people who simply want the American dream for themselves and their families, it strains our concept of humanity to oppose them. Every fiber of my body wants to reach out and embrace them, to assure them that I'm really not a heartless fiend.

It should go without saying that the overwhelming number of people coming here illegally are doing so to earn money to feed their families. If they had been born here, they would be among the most law-abiding, ambitious, family-oriented people in the country. Hispanics are no less proud of their heritage than the Irish, Italians, Jews, Asians, or any other ethnicity. Only the hard-core bigots in this country would disagree with that.

Nevertheless, the flood of illegal immigrants into the US is a serious challenge to our sovereignty and a growing menace to our safety. However, it should in no way be viewed as an example of a nation without compassion. When you look around the world at the way trespassers are treated it's easy to conclude that we are a glowing tribute to patience and sympathetic consciousness. The question is should we lead with our hearts or with our heads? Everything we've learned about the millions of illegal aliens tells us that they're too much of a strain on our economy. There's a reason why we have a system in place to allow a certain number of immigrants each year to make the US their home.

Without an organized method of limiting additions to the population, we'd soon be crushed shoulder to shoulder from sea to shining sea. Furthermore, we'd have no way of knowing if those we granted access to are drug pushers and other dangerous criminals wanted for crimes in their own countries. But, even on a more subtle level, we can't afford to abandon our system of laws in order to accommodate those who have decided to break them. What other laws should we give up on because they're difficult to enforce?

Speaking of enforcement, I agree with those who say we should crack down on companies who knowingly hire illegal aliens. If there were no jobs for them, there'd be little reason for them to pay smugglers to help them cross the border. As far as I'm concerned, the fault lies first with those who add bait to the barbed hook, and second with those who merely get caught on the line. These are poor people and if we're going to allow employers to dangle better wages in front of them than they could ever get in their own country, it's tough to blame them when they bite on it. We have an unemployment rate of about 10 percent, some of it attributable to businesses that hire people who are here illegally, hence, will work for menial wages. They don't dare complain due to fear of being reported to immigration authorities. 

I don't know what the solution is, but it seems that Arizona is at least trying to do something about it. Perhaps, when they discover illegal immigrants, they should investigate where they've been working, and bring those employers before the court to explain why they've aided and abetted the invasion of this country (they might also be charged with violation of minimum wage laws). Put a few of those greedy entrepreneurs in jail and the job situation for aliens will soon dry up. Not only will that help solve the border problem, but it will help unemployed American citizens to obtain jobs at fair wages. If this had been done a long time ago, we may not have needed to spend another $34 billion recently, money we don't have, on the extension of unemployment benefits.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. E-mail Bob.