ACRU

Disrespect for Law Doesn’t Always Stop Where You Think It Will

A Reuters article published yesterday (“Workers sue U.S. factory after immigration raid”) reports that several hundred illegal immigrant workers at a plant south of Boston have sued the company for cheating them on their wages. The article portrays the illegal immigrants as victims — of the government’s raid, and of factory management’s greed — but there is a different way to look at it.

About a month ago, I wrote in this space that the foremost reason to oppose “sanctuary cities” and their indulgence of illegal immigration is that these things sow disrespect for the rule of law:

“If elected officials pretending to be leaders can turn their backs on laws they dislike, where does that ‘principle’ stop?….Democratic self-government presupposes fidelity to law, even when one disagrees with it. Were it otherwise, self-government would dissolve into anarchy. All are free to attempt to change the law by persuasion and argument — in other words, by making their case to the electorate. But they are not free [simply] to thumb their nose at [it].”

It is therefore not the case that the “undocumented” workers bringing this suit are simply victims. Illegal immigrants who make a deal with the Devil to obtain under-the-table employment should expect the same results as anyone else who enlists Satan as a business partner. Employers who cheat, or at best look the other way, in order to get cheap labor, are exactly the employers who can be expected to keep on cheating once the workers show up. That they do so (or at least have been alleged to do so) can hardly come as a surprise, least of all to the illegals who have jobs with the employer to begin with only because the employer was willing to join with them in walking away from the rules. Once indulgence of illegality starts — as it did when the immigrant workers illegally crossed the border — it’s not so easy to stop. The irony of illegal workers suing the employer for illegal pay may be lost on Reuters, but it should not be lost on the rest of us.

Illegal immigrants are still human beings and children of God, but they are exceptionally poorly positioned to be complaining about other people’s disrespect for law. Having started down that path, where did they expect to wind up?