Ethics Dunce: Guitarist Carlos Santana

Legendary rock guitarist Carlos Santana thought it was appropriate to lecture a ballpark full of Atlantans when he was  honored with a “Beacon of Change” award at Sunday’s MLB Civil Rights Game at Turner Field. Pronouncing Georgia’s  new immigration law just signed into law by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal “anti-American,” the Mexican-born Carlos Santana said,“I represent the human race. The people of Arizona, the people of Atlanta, Georgia, you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Dear Carlos: If you can't say something responsible about immigration, please just shut up and play.

Later, he told reporters , “This is about fear, that people are going to steal my job. No we ain’t. You don’t clean toilets and clean sheets, stop shucking and jiving.”

Santana is entitled to express his opinion; he is even entitled to express stupid and ignorant opinions. But when he uses his fame, name recognition and a forum given to him as an honor to express a stupid, ignorant and irresponsible opinion, that is intolerable.

It is true that cynical politicians and feckless journalists have been working overtime to create the public perception that the United States of America has no right to police its borders, that people who come here in flagrant disregard for our laws are virtuous, admirable, and have a right to all the benefits of citizenship, and that the view that laws are meant to be enforced and that illegal immigration should be discouraged by the government is not only quaint but racist. Their vile work notwithstanding, objections to illegal immigration are not “anti-American,” and it  protecting illegal immigrants isn’t right.

Laws, as I have stated here many times, should be enforced to the best of the government’s ability or repealed. The absurd position taken by Santana and his friends that it is fine for the United States to have immigration laws as long as it doesn’t seriously try to enforce them, is one of those bizarre epidemics of insane ideas that periodically threaten a culture, like Holland deciding that tulips were as valuable as gold, or a whole generation in the Sixties deciding that being stoned all day and having sex with everyone you met was a reasonable and productive way to go through life.

Georgia has passed a law that–the Horror!—actually dictates harsh penalties for willfully violating immigration laws. HB 87…

  • Creates a new criminal offense of aggravated identity fraud for anyone willfully using fraudulent documents to get a job. A person under 21 would be punished by 1-3 years in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000. Those 21 and up would face minimally 1-10 years in jail and/or a fine up to $100,000.
  • Empowers any peace officer with probable cause to believe a person has committed a criminal offense, including a traffic offense, to investigate their immigration status if they cannot produce valid identification and detain them if they are found to be in the country illegally. • States that a person’s race, color or country of origin is not to be a determinant in investigating their immigration status.
  • States that a person who contacts the police to report a crime, as a witness to a crime or victim of a crime will not have their status investigated.
  • Requires that when anyone is held in county or municipal jail for any reason, an effort is made to verify that they are in the country legally and if they are not in the country legally, immigration authorities will be notified and they will be subject to detention.
  • Creates a new criminal offense: transporting or moving an illegal alien.
  • Creates a new criminal offense: knowingly and intentionally inducing an illegal alien to enter Georgia. Penalties range from less than 1 year in jail and/or a fine to 1-5 years in jail and/or a fine.
  • Creates a new criminal offense: concealing or harboring an illegal alien. Harboring is defined to mean anything that substantially helps an illegal alien to remain in the United States. Exceptions are: helping infants, children, a crime victim, in a medical emergency, or attorney-client representation. Penalties mirror those for transporting an illegal alien.
  • Requires any private employer with 5 or more employees to use the federal E-Verify program to determine that any newly hired employee is in the country legally. This will be effective July 2012 for employers of 100 or more and Dec. 31, 2012 for employers of 5 or more. In order to receive a business license or renew a license, businesses will have to show they are registered with E-Verify. Violation of this will be a criminal offense.
  • Requires anyone applying to receive a public benefit to show via a secure and verifiable document that they are a legal resident and to swear and sign an affidavit to that effect. By Aug. 1, 2011 the state attorney general website will have to provide a list of what are secure and verifiable identification documents. As of January 2012, no public agency can accept anything other than this type of document. Exceptions are provided for those providing emergency medical services, for those giving service to infants, children and victims of crimes, for a person reporting a crime or for those helping people to obtain a temporary protective order.
  • Authorizes any legal resident 21 and older to file a civil action against any official or agency to require enforcement of provisions of this law.
  • Authorizes the state attorney general to bring a civil action against any political entity in the state deemed not to be enforcing the code section.
  • States that no local body, including counties, municipalities, school districts, commissions or others, can adopt a sanctuary policy that would restrict local employees from cooperating with federal or other law enforcement officers on immigration status information while the local employee is performing official duties.

In other words, the Georgia law makes illegal immigration illegal. It does not permit citizens to help non-citizens violate the law. It proscribes tough penalties for breaking the law. If we want to debate whether the penalties are too harsh, fine…they obviously have to be tough than current laws, since Georgia has almost a half-million illegals within its borders already.

Is there anything racist about the law, as Santana contends? Only if one agrees to play the disingenuous victim fantasy game: if you enforce a law that is overwhelmingly violated by a class of people, and that means your purpose must be to harm that class of people out of hate and bigotry. That is a lie, of course. The government enforces the law, and it is the duty of all classes and categories and groups of people to obey the law. The only class of people targeted by law enforcement is the group known as “law-breakers.”

Is there anything anti-American about the law? Only to the anti-American advocates who argue that open borders are in the nation’s best interest, rather than the best interest of the impoverished citizens of corrupt governments and the officials who make the U.S. such an inviting oasis by their own wretched policies.

The consequences of the government’s abdication of its obligation to enforce legal immigration and discourage illegal immigration are already devastating, and if Santana has his way, will only get worse. His message at Turner Field, intentionally or not, was pure disinformation, and thus reckless and irresponsible. Americans should no more listen respectfully to statements about the cruelty of enforcing immigration laws than they should applaud speakers who solemnly announce that the world is flat or that Barack Obama is an agent of Islam.

17 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Guitarist Carlos Santana

  1. “This is about fear, that people are going to steal my job. No we ain’t. You don’t clean toilets and clean sheets, stop shucking and jiving.”

    A lot of Americans would take those jobs today.

  2. I can understand why reasonable people are against laws that punish illegal immigrants. I understand your conviction that a law should be either enforced or repealed, but sometimes a law is a bad law that, for whatever reason, legislators cannot or will not turn into a good law (given your frequent posts criticizing Congress, you can understand why some bad laws are not changed). When such a bad law is in place, there is often sympathy for those who break it because reasonable people conclude that, if they were in the same position as those who break the law, they would break the law as well.

    American immigration laws could be called bad laws because they punish those who follow them much more than they punish those who break them. The immigrants who enter the United States illegally for economic reasons are most often the sorts of people who could never enter the US on a work permit legally. They often do not have university degrees or highly marketable skills and they are not fleeing state persecution, so they would not qualify as refugees. Unfortunately, for the class of people who generally make up illegal migrants, their labour is far more valuable in the US than it is in their country. Virtuous members of the class, who value adherence to American law more than the comfort and wellbeing of their family, are rewarded by being able to hear stories of their friends and neighbours who have broken the law who are becoming much richer then them. They will also see the parents and extended families of the illegals who still live near them living a much better life thanks to remittances from the US. Those who illegally cross the border, on the other hand, are often only punished by having to lead their much better new life somewhat clandestinely. Even if they are caught, the worst punishment they often receive is deportation, so they can try again later. Given this incentive structure, a reasonable American might conclude that they would become illegal immigrants if they were in the same position as someone in a low-wage country. They might even call laws that punish illegal immigrants “anti-American” due to their conviction that America is a country that generally rewards those work hard and obey the laws and the fact that the plain fact that the law only rewards those who break it.

    There are many things that American governments could do to make immigration law a good law that reasonable people could support (for example, a guest worker program available only to those that have never entered America illegally). Unfortunately, those who advocate sensible reforms are often punished (see John McCain). Ultimately, any reform should include stronger penalties for those who break immigration laws or hire illegal immigrants, but unless broader reforms are made to reward those who obey the law, reasonable people will see these laws as only punishing those who made a rational decision that they too would have made in the same circumstances.

  3. So long as probably cause is something more than they have dark skin and speak with an accent (or only speak spanish), then I’m fine with this law. Do I believe for a second that the above qualities won’t be taken as probably cause? No.

      • OOOh…I have big problems with that. I can ethically defend profiling in limited situations, but I neither believe that law enforcement officials will pull over people for “driving while brown” any more than I think it woild be justified.

        I will volunteer this: if every American has to show proof of citizenship on demand (“Vere are zee papers? HMMM???), I have no problem with that. It is fair and democratic, if distasteful, and if demagogues find it offensive, they should have thought of that before we let illegal immigration get out of control.

        • I don’t think people will necessarily be pulled over specifically for driving while brown, but once someone is pulled over, I’m sure some officers will assume the probable cause is met by color. And if that behavior is not widespread, I’m sure the locality will be sued for not enforcing the law as desired by random crackpot citizens.

          • As I read the Georgia law, I don’t think they could do that, even if they wanted to. And I’m puzzled regarding the type of lawsuits you describe. They are rare, and almost always fail. Why worry about them?

            • Empowers any peace officer with probable cause to believe a person has committed a criminal offense, including a traffic offense, to investigate their immigration status if they cannot produce valid identification and detain them if they are found to be in the country illegally. • States that a person’s race, color or country of origin is not to be a determinant in investigating their immigration status.

              If there’s probably cause you committed X, and you aren’t carrying identification, then the officer can look into your immigration status if he feels like it. He can’t do this based on race, color, or country, so what could he possibly base it on?

              Unless someone specifically talks about crossing the border, what possible reason would their be to look into someone’s immigration status? The caveat will not be followed. The law only makes sense if it is not followed.

              Note that there is no law requiring people in Georgia to have ID on them.

              Authorizes any legal resident 21 and older to file a civil action against any official or agency to require enforcement of provisions of this law.

              I think that’s self descriptive. While I suspect all challenges would fail, they’d be wasting the courts’ time and money.

              • There is a law requiring a driver’s license, and a stop without probable cause will get everything thrown out of court. You stop a car that is speeding. The driver can’t produce a license, which would satisfy the “valid ID” provision. Why NOT ask about citizenship?

                That provision about the law suit is boilerplate. It means “we’re serious about this.” You may be right, but I doubt there will be enough suits to matter.

                • This statute doesn’t just apply to driving. It applies to any probable cause of criminality…like standing around out front of a convenience store, missing the public trash can with a banana peel, or taking pictures of a government building from a public road (in the cops opinion).

                  As for driving itself, if all drivers without ID (something they are already required to have) were checked, I’d be perfectly fine with it. That’s not the law though. The law empowers the officers to decide whether or not to check. What do you think they’re going to base that decision on?

                  • Are you concerned that all those illegal Canadians won’t be caught? Citizen Hispanics should have an equal interest in not permitting illegal immigration. Let’s say a legitimate stop (I am not anticipating mis-thrown banana peel arrests) leads to 200 Hispanics being checked under the law, and 45% of them turn out to be illegal. I think the legal 55% should suck it up. There is no perfect solution at this point…I don’t see this as extreme.

                    • I’m suggesting this law isn’t going after illegal immigrants per se, just hispanic and middle eastern illegal immigrants (or whatever the flavor of the day is). I’m also suggesting that this law creates two classes of citizens. Guys like me who are safe going for a run without a wallet, and guys that look like they could be the above, who are not. (Yes, if they felt like it, the police could have probably cause to stop me on my regular run. I routinely trespass on the last yard of a hundred properties, as well as through a local college campus, and sometimes a couple church yards. Imagine if I was running at 6pm in the winter, after dark, dressed in sweats and gloves due to the cold and fitting the description of every dark skinned burglarly suspect of all time.

  4. This whole deal angers me to the point of rambling and sputtering.

    This is not racism. This is upholding a law the federal government neglects to enforce. This is states being tired of paying for illegal immigration running rampant.

    And this is what kills me the most. Mexicans are not the only ones to cross into our borders illegally. By suggesting only Mexicans are the only ones to cross illegally into America you allow the other illegal aliens to go unpunished.

  5. Until recently Mexico’s immigration laws allowed illegal aliens to be imprisoned for up to 10 years. No other country that I know of allows this many illegal aliens to enter and make use of public services (ERs , schools). Countries such as Japan and Switzerland do know bestow citizenship on children born there, the US is far from the toughest country on illegals. I told all the people protesting in Japan to not go to renew their visas next time as a show of solidarity….no one took me up on it.

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