Flogging the Wet Backs
At least that’s what committee chair Rep. Mario Civera, called it.
As Civera reminded the crowd assembled at the National Constitution Center, he would frown upon demagoguing on the issue of illegal immigration.
Shortly thereafter, Civera invited to the stage that noted immigration scholar, The Sage of Geno’s Steaks, Mr. Joey Vento.
Mr. Demagogue himself.
“I am going to talk from my heart,” Vento told the committee. Which meant, alas, that he left his mind at home.
Vento, famed as the guy who put that Order in English sign in the window of his South Philly steak shop, launched into a 15-minute, exclamation-point-laced rant about recent arrivals to our great nation. Some highlights:
“It’s a privilege to assimilate and learn. You gotta assimilate...!
“You must be an American! Illegal is illegal! I don’t care how hard you work! You come to this country illegally? End of story? You are outta here...!
“Press 1 for English! Press 2 for Mexican! What’s that? You gotta assimilate...the Koreans, the Vietnamese. They assimilated real nice. What’s wrong with these people?”
“Learn English! That’s my words of wisdom! Then we’ll prosperous together. But, if you learn good English and you are illegal, you are still out!"
And so on! And so forth!
The committee members lapped it up. Here, in their very midst, a genuine international celebrity.
“Have you ever thought of running for the state legislature?” asked Rep. Stephen Barrar.
Vento demurred. He said, in so many words, that his wife would kill him if he did. The committee members smiled.
Let’s pause here for a few facts.
Pennsylvania is not California. We have trouble attracting legal immigrants, for God’s sake, let alone illegal ones.
Of the 11 million or so illegal immigrants in America, Pennsylvania’s share is estimated to be anywhere from 150,000 to 200,000, most of them from Mexico. That is equal to a little under 2% of the state’s population of 12.2 million.
If that’s a scourge, it’s a mini-scourge.
Most of these illegals work in low-paying jobs – harvesting mushrooms in Chester County, picking fruit in Adams County, washing dishes in Philly restaurants, working on construction crews in central Pa.
One final fact: there’s this document called the U.S. Constitution that makes the issue of immigration the purview of the federal government. The feds, as we all know, are jealous of their prerogatives.
As the Rev. William Ayres, director of the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Office for Migrants told the committee:
“Immigration law is a federal matter, I believe that creating a system where different states and municipalities become involved makes the issue more complicated and divisive.”
Ayers urged the committee to deal with the issue “based on the principles of justice and charity.”
That was a mistake.
Rep. Daryl “Mad Dog” Metcalfe would have none of it. He chastised the Catholic do-gooder for being soft on “invaders.”
Among committee members, the reaction to Ayers and others “soft” on immigration who came before them, was to express SHOCK and HORROR that ANYONE would condone SOMETHING that was ILLEGAL!
Dom Giordano, from The Big Talker (WCAU-AM 1210), doing his best Steven Colbert imitation, warned the committee against listening to “factoids” about immigrants contributing to society and the economy. Liberals, he sighed, are simply “addicted to illegal behavior.”
Vento was Thursday’s prime attraction but Metcalfe is the star of this show. He rails against the invaders. He threatens their defenders. He seethes through testimony of immigration softies, scribbling questions on his yellow legal pad, waiting for them to pause so he can pounce and strangle them. Verbally, of course.
In short, he makes Joey Vento look like Mother Theresa.
What will these hearings yield?
They are not designed to yield anything, other than to juice up ILLEGAL immigration as a hot button issue as a prelude to the November election.
The Republicans, you see, are in favor of the LAW. The Democrats are in favor of the ILLEGALS.
But even the Republicans are divided on the issue. The Red Meaters want the illegals out and now! The Capitalists want them as a cheap source of labor. With no Mexicans, who’s going to pick that fruit or wade into the manure to harvest mushrooms or work below scale on construction crews?
So, what do we get?
A dog-and-pony show, courtesy of the House Republicans. All heat, no light.
And if any of those dogs or ponies are illegals? Well, as Joey Vento put it: They are GONE! They are OUTTA HERE!
END OF STORY!!!!!!!