Politically liberal Highland Park, Illinois, a prosperous suburb of Chicago, whose residents employ hundreds, if not thousands, of landscapers and nannies having no legal right to be in, much less be employed in, the U.S., are up in arms about the Arizona immigration law. The City went so far as to cancel its high school women’s basketball trip to Arizona. The stated reason was that it might expose the girls to unwarranted stops by Arizona police enforcing the new law. But that is nonsense. News reports indicated all members of the team were U.S. citizens and had valid drivers’ licenses. Therefore, under the law, they could not be detained unless stopped for some other offense, and if questioned about their immigration status, could answer the inquiry by producing their valid drivers’ licenses.
The real reason Highland Park dislikes the Arizona law is because Highland Park is addicted to cheap labor provided by illegals. They will not admit this. And why should they when they can bathe themselves in the verbiage of moral superiority, their preferred position on any number of political questions. So they attack the law for countenancing “racial profiling” while hiring landscapers with all-Hispanic work crews to cut their grass and maintain their swimming pools. Highland Parkers are saving serious money by exploiting illegal immigrant labor and they know it. How do we (and they) know the immigration status of landscaping crews on Chicago’s North Shore? Because people use their common sense. Landscaping, a very low-wage job with no benefits and probably no upward mobility, is one of the country’s “brown” (all Hispanic) occupations which legal Americans shun at the wages offered. (Others include chicken processing, cleaning offices, child care, etc.) All landscapers thus employ crews of Hispanic men who cannot speak English. We know they cannot be native-born U.S. citizens, because natives speak English. We also know naturalized U.S. citizens must pass an English proficiency test. And anyone who has tried to speak to someone on a landscaper’s crew will come away frustrated. We also know that it is extremely difficult for unskilled Mexicans to obtain permanent residency status (marriage to a U.S. citizen will expedite the process). So the likelihood is that non-English speaking Hispanic landscapers are in the U.S. illegally. The landscaping company is committing a crime in employing these people. And the Highland Park homeowners know this full well and are, in a legal sense, accessories to the immigration crimes. As the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals stated in 1982: “We find it difficult to believe that a metropolitan Chicago employer can employ a work force almost exclusively made up of Spanish-speaking men of Mexican origin at wages within pennies of the minimum wage (and at hard and unappetizing work) without even suspecting that some of these employees are illegal aliens.”
Highland Parkers are not really worried about a member of their girls’ basketball team being detained while on a trip to Arizona. They profit from cheap labor, and want it to continue. That is an amoral stance. It must therefore be justified by casting the Arizona law as going beyond what the Constitution allows, which as I have written before, it does not do. So rather than get specific and cite a Supreme Court case which would demonstrate the Arizona law is unconstitutional or in violation of some statute, Highland Park officials said it would encourage “racial profiling,” i.e., taking into account Hispanic ethnicity when suspecting someone is illegal. Doing so is perfectly sensible, since 94% of illegals in Arizona are from Mexico (see below). And the Supreme Court has found such questioning to be legal in three prior cases since 1975. Moreover, talk to an affluent Highland Park liberal in confidence, as I have done many times, and he or she will quickly concede that they know full well their landscapers are illegal, and probably their nannies as well. Have they actually asked them for their papers? No, but their common sense points in that direction. Highland Park’s defense: everybody does it. Well, no longer in Arizona if the new law is enforced. But Highland Park won’t have that. To keep up the “everybody-does-it” moral equivalence, it must denounce the Arizona law as racist.
According to the public opinion polls upwards of 70% of Arizonans support the law, as do a little over 50% of the rest of the nation. It’s heartening to see that middle income people care more about law enforcement than cheap labor. Those of us who live in the Chicago area might want to boycott Highland Park’s magnificent Ravinia music festival this summer to give the hypocritical City its just desserts.