Friday, March 30, 2007

The Real Embarrassment

I heard about this story on WMAL this morning, and went to the Washington Post to read the story.

It seems that two executives of a San Diego company that built a portion of a fence designed to keep illegal immigrants from crossing the Mexican border were sentenced to six months of home confinement for hiring undocumented workers.

Mel Kay, founder, chairman and president of Golden State Fence Co., and manager Michael McLaughlin pleaded guilty in federal court to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. Each was sentenced to serve 1,040 hours of community service and spend three years on probation. Kay was also fined $200,000, while McLaughlin was required to pay a fine of $100,000. Each will "serve" six months of home confinement. The company also agreed to pay a fine of $4.7 million. On WMAL's website, these questions were asked:

Is this punishment appropriate? Is home confinement sufficient or should this guy be getting jail time? Is it especially egregious that he hired illegals to do build the fence to keep the illegals out? Should the government take any responsibility for who is hired to fulfill their contracts?

Because the company helped build a fence to keep people from illegally crossing the border, much is being made of this fine on the radio, even though Federal authorities said they found no evidence that illegal immigrants were hired in the late 1990s while the company built more than a mile of the 14-mile fence near a border crossing in San Diego.

According to the radio report that I heard, Kay and McLaughlin made themselves targets when then-INS agents checked company records, discovered that illegal aliens were being employed, and directed that the company fire them. When now-ICE agents returned a year later, and found that a number were still employed, it was decided that the Federal government would make an example of this company.

Sorry, but WMAL is asking the wrong questions. While there is no doubt that the company and these officials should be held liable, the real scandal, and story, here is in the fact that, when Federal officials first visited the company, they merely directed these officials to fire the illegal aliens, rather than carting them off to jail for swift deportation.

It is little wonder that Kay and McLaughlin didn't act. By their actions, the relevant officials of the Federal government demonstrated that their enforcements efforts were a joke.

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