December 7, 2007

Mitt Romney: Illegal Immigrants Hit Close to Home

It's Friday - a good time to kick the hornet's nest of illegal immigration and see what happens. Mitt Romney wants to be the baddest Republican dude on illegals - toss 'em out, every last one of the 12 or so million. His position on undocumented workers is similar to former MA Governor Bill Weld's position on crime: "somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun."

So it's with considerable embarassment that Romney is exposed as someone who is dependent upon the labor of undocumented workers (just like the rest of us). First, it was his lawn company, which used undocumented workers, promised not to, and then was caught doing it again. Safe to say their bid was one of the lowest - as their labor costs would be lower than a competitor hiring U.S. citizens.

Then Romney gets his house painted (salmon color, for those of you who might be interested). He chose Olympic Painting and Roofing, a contractor with a long history of employment problems. (Romney probably liked the name - it reminded him of his success in running the Olympic games.) The Boston Globe quotes Olympic owner George Vasiliades as denying that he employed illegal immigrants at Romney's house - or anyplace else.

Vasiliades's record is spotty, to say the least. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to workers' compensation fraud charges and failing to pay unemployment tax contributions. He was sentenced to one year probation, and ordered to pay a $250 fine, court costs, and $4,880 in restitution to three employees. Olympic is currently under investigation by the attorney general's office for allegedly paying numerous workers off the books.

Olympic is also part of a federal investigation into the Aug. 31 death of Benedelso Ovalle of Lynn, who fell from a 2 1/2-story church in Salem while working for an Olympic subcontractor, BC Construction. Ovalle was a 17-year-old illegal immigrant from Guatemala, according to his family's lawyer, Anne Gugino Carrigan. According to the police report, Ovalle was not wearing a safety harness before he fell, and neither were two of five other workers at the scene. (Perhaps the safety manual was written in English.)

Of course, Vasiliades defends himself by asserting that he is not responsible for the actions of a subcontractor. I'm sure he was shocked - shocked! - that no fall protection was in place.

Frozen Rhetoric?
As part of his Iowa strategy, Romney is working diligently to secure the endorsement of U.S. Representative Steve King, who has identified illegal immigration as the most important litmus test for Republican presidential candidates. When King selected a contractor to paint his own house, he was not content to secure verbal assurances that all the employees doing the work had proper documentation. He decided to hang around the house while they were working, listening oh-so-carefully for Spanish accents - a sure sign (for King at least) of illegality. Maybe Romney could pick up a few tricks about household management from King.

This post began with the image of a hornet's nest. Let's end with one, too. Driving to work on this frozen Friday, I saw a bird perched beside a huge football-sized nest. All the insect inhabitants were presumably frozen. The bird was plucking them out and eating them, one by one, as if they were delicacies on a platter. That image may contain a lesson for all the politicians trying to confront the undocumented worker dilemma: let's chill out. Let's avoid inflaming an already over-heated situation. Sometimes a little perspective and dispassion can take the sting out of an issue and make it more manageable. After all, come spring, someone has to mow the lawns and paint the houses.

| 7 Comments

7 Comments

Jon:

Letting our bias show this morning?

Painting republican candidates with a sub contractor of a house painter on a different job. That’s really stretching it don't you think?

Why don't we just point out Rommney should have run illegals out of Massachusetts when Governor and didn't. Therefor he a hypocrite.

Speaking of Hypocrites, you don't think a Democrat has ever used an illegal alien in violation of the law (remember Zoe Baird)?

I am glad to see you protecting felons from justice. (It is illegal alien) But comparing them to frozen insects, wow.

By the way, "right of Atilla the Hun", would be to kill every illegal alien and confiscate his or her assets. In reality that is probably exactly what Atilla would do.

Regards,

Charles Read

P.S. It is 80 degrees here today
I am glad to see you protecting felons from justice. Why don't we escorriate candidates on their capital punishment stand.

Unfortunately, sitting back and relaxing about this issue is no longer a luxury we can afford. The illegal entry of persons into this country provides the very means by which terrorists have and will continue to wreak havoc upon us. The FBI just revealed that tunnels used by Mexican drug cartels to smuggle drugs, gang members and illegals into the country are being used by terrorists to smuggle weapons and people in. Overheated?...What next? You better hope it causes a severe meltdown resulting into something formerly known as "action being taken".
The only time politicians pay any attention to the matter is if it means their soft cushy job at election time. Hey, sit back and relax.... exactly what the apathetic Romans did...
So, let the candidates squirm some more about what they say versus what they do...how better to check the credibility of their rhetoric...let them walk the walk or relinquish the soapbox.
These characters are so far removed from our everyday reality that they might make better actors in Hollywood...
As for landscaping, I do my own thank you...get your soft, fat and distracted kids to mow the lawns and wash dishes....

When do the shots at the Democrats start?

Here is the bottom line. Those 12 million people or so are not suppose to be here. They are breaking the law. Further more they are screwing over those people trying to follow the rules. If they are not suppose to be here then they need to leave.

What if Mitt Romney challenged the workers at his home? Someone would crawl out of the woodwork saying that he is profiling!

The report I heard on a Boston radio said that the workers had purchased false documents.

The workers employer, the landscaping company owner, is responsible for employing legal immigrants.

There is no end to this. Does Romney verify the documents of the employees at a gas station or convenience store? Typical entry level jobs which attract illegal immigrants.

I think that employers have the responsibility for hiring legal employees and verifying legal documentation.

It is a challenge. The company I work for hires primarily for entry-level jobs.

When is someone going to bring up the real issue here... who actually paints their house salmon? Yuck.

Ok, seriously folks, speaking from the other end of the spectrum, I just have to say that I find it a bit frustrating that most (if not all) of the Republican candidates are using immigration - legal or illegal - as their main talking point. I honestly believe there are more important issues to focus on than the straw man of immigration and I certainly believe that the "round 'em up and kick 'em out" rhetoric is getting us nowhere. The very fact that one of the main spokespeople for that philosophy has difficulty keeping undocumented workers from his companies and the companies he hires just shows how difficult that kind of tactic would be to implement.

I'm not saying I have the answers, I'm just tired of the witch hunt - and the questionable "facts" used to back it up (some of which have been posted in these very comments above me). Seriously, what's next? If I smoke a joint I'm supporting Al Qaeda?

As my last comment, let me just say, if we took all the money we spent on Iraq we'd probably have enough money to build a giant concrete dome over the entire United States... I'm sure that would solve everyone's problems.

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This page contains a single entry by Jon Coppelman published on December 7, 2007 11:46 AM.

News roundup: Cavalcade of Risk, modern day slavery, new NIOSH blog, and more was the previous entry in this blog.

Contract Workers as Employees in Texas is the next entry in this blog.

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