I’d never thought of Pahrump as a bastion of political correctness, but new Nye County Assessor Shirley Matson seems to have stirred some ire west of the valley by sending a quasi-official email to Sheriff Tony DeMeo, asking to him to determine whether allegedly non-English-speaking laborers building the county’s new jail are U.S. citizens or otherwise eligible to work on such a government project.
That is, whether they’re illegal aliens.
The Pahrump Valley Times, owned by Review-Journal parent company Stephens Media, condemned Matson’s “racist antics” in a front-page editorial last week, calling for her resignation.
(On Friday, Matson, an independent elected official, was “reprimanded” by the Nye County Commission. I’m sure she’s heartbroken.)
The sheriff reportedly said he was “sickened” by the racist implications of the inquiry, and refused to check because he said he had no legal reason to do so. Then, this week, the jail contractor, Utah-based Layton Construction, provided evidence to Matson that all its employees and those of its subcontractors are either U.S. citizens or have legal work visas.
So, if it was so offensive to “ask,” why did the Layton folks bother to “tell”?
Because speaking English is a condition of citizenship, maybe Ms. Matson was misinformed about whether the workers can speak English.
Surely some of her other reported comments — at least one of which was a years-old comment re-dated to make it appear recent, according to her attorney, Nancy Lord — have not been overly delicate. It appears Ms. Matson believes female illegal aliens purposely get pregnant and bear children here in order to make it harder to deport them, that “dirty filthy Mexican/Latino illegals … steal Social Security numbers,” and that illegal immigrants are “locusts” devouring the nation’s resources.
This is not nice talk. If it can be shown her attitude has any impact on how she executes the duties of her office in regards to people of Hispanic ancestry, that would be a serious problem.
If we presume that words such as “locusts” are used metaphorically, however — that Ms. Matson doesn’t really believe people from Mexico and farther south are insects — most of this stuff is, well, true.
To work, illegal aliens frequently write down nine-digit numbers on employment forms asking for Social Security numbers. Some of the numbers, whether purchased or made up, were assigned to real Americans, whose identities are thus stolen, putting them in jeopardy if, for instance, the person using their identity gets charged with a crime. Can anyone deny this?
Children born here to illegal aliens are considered automatic U.S. citizens under the current prevailing interpretation of the 14th Amendment — though that could be challenged on grounds that such parents are not under proper U.S. “jurisdiction.” Such children certainly do become de facto “anchor babies,” leading to much wailing and gnashing of teeth should anyone seek to deport their parents.
And the impact of non-paying illegal aliens on the incipient bankruptcy of our hospital emergency rooms and tax-supported public schools, particularly here in the Southwest, cannot be denied.
If pointing such things out and insisting that Sheriff DeMeo enforce the law, or call in those who can enforce it, makes him “sick,” one wonders if he has the stomach for the job.
Last December, Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen announced his deputies had arrested 21 illegal aliens who had been working at a taxpayer-funded construction site in Panama City, Fla. Deputies had stopped a truck being driven erratically just after it left the construction site. The driver admitted to being in the country illegally and told deputies he lived with 16 other illegal aliens in two nearby homes.
The suspects were processed into the federal ICE 287g program; six were charged with criminal use of personal information for working under stolen Social Security numbers.
Do Sheriff McKeithen’s actions make Sheriff DeMeo “sick”?
Lots of Americans — a majority, I suspect — are equally sickened by the refusal of our government at any level to enforce our immigration laws. The amnesty gang claim they want immigration law “reform,” but — because no such “reform” could retroactively grant amnesty to those already here illegally — I doubt it.
This country has too many laws; many should be repealed. But we should start in areas where Congress now meddles without constitutional authorization. The Constitution, on the other hand, specifically empowers and even assigns Congress the duty to create uniform laws for immigration and naturalization.
What the amnesty gang really mean is that we should ignore those laws and simply allow our emotions to guide us. These illegals are nice folks who just want better lives for their families, the amnesty gang argue.
Most are. But does this mean we should suspend all immigration enforcement, inviting millions of illiterates with no capital, no job skills, no English and no notion of our tradition of constitutional government to swarm here by boat or plane, camping out in our public parks, driving down wages and bankrupting our public institutions?
There is a precedent for what can happen in such circumstances — especially if you then layer on a serious economic recession. Under those circumstances, people have been known to take the law into their own hands.
What if mobs of vigilantes started rounding up illegal aliens for do-it-yourself deportations?
I’m not proposing anyone do that. That would be terrible. For one thing, vigilante justice knows little of due process and the rules of evidence. But how could the amnesty gang respond?
After all, such a mob would doubtless explain, “There’s no need to obey the law anymore. No one enforces the law, or pays any penalty for breaking the law, so don’t give us that. Instead, we’re just doing what the amnesty gang told us to do — whatever feels right to us emotionally. Because we’re just ‘good people watching out for our own families,’ who deserve to be forgiven for ignoring the law, same as them.”
If you want unlimited immigration, start by getting rid of tax-funded schools and emergency rooms.
Meantime, even when the laws are admittedly imperfect, the benefit of the rule of law is that most folks shrug and agree to abide by a uniform set of rules, in order to gain the greater benefits of predictability and civil order.
Those who seek not merely to revise or repeal imperfect laws, but to encourage a climate of lawlessness, branding as “racist” and thus dismissing those who stand up for the enforcement of the law, beckon the whirlwind.
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal, and author of the novel “The Black Arrow” and the nonfiction “Send in the Waco Killers.” See www.vinsuprynowicz.com.