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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Economy > Sec. Chertoff’s housecleaners may have been undocumented but they weren’t criminals

Sec. Chertoff’s housecleaners may have been undocumented but they weren’t criminals

LatinaLista — There’s a lesson to be learned from the latest high-ranking government figure who unwittingly got punk’d for employing a cleaning company that had undocumented workers working for it.

It seems it was discovered that the head honcho of the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Michael Chertoff, has been having his home cleaned by a cleaning crew comprised, in part, with undocumented immigrants.
The moral to this story, besides the fact, that this exemplifies just how ingrained undocumented workers are in our society is that though these workers were screened every few weeks for the past four years, they always sailed through with flying colors — because of one important fact.


The Secret Service was the agency involved in screening the cleaners who worked at Secretary Chertoff’s house. Yet, for an agency that is entrusted with keeping the most important government figures safe and who prides itself on catching criminals and thwarting illegal schemes, how could their screenings had missed such an important detail as the fact that these workers were undocumented?
Easy.
Screenings that involve keeping such high-profile figures safe involves checking for the one element that would create an unsafe situation — a criminal background.
In other words, the Secret Service did their job and screened all these workers’ criminal backgrounds — and they found nothing. It was only when they checked their immigration status that they realized they were here illegally.
But overstaying visas and being in the country without the proper paperwork is not and never has been the kind of crime that puts somebody’s life in danger and warrants addition to the “Most Wanted” list.
Yes, these workers were working and taxes were being taken out of their paychecks and going where? Oh yeah, to that big pool of money Washington has saved where all the money taken out of checks of the people who work here without the proper paperwork have their money taken.
Money that they will never see but money that is conveniently ignored when they are accused of not paying taxes. Money that the same gray-haired critics of these immigrants will benefit from when it comes time to live off their Social Security.

While it has been evident for years that illegal immigrants pay a variety of taxes, the extent of their contributions to Social Security is striking: the money added up to about 10 percent of last year’s surplus – the difference between what the system currently receives in payroll taxes and what it doles out in pension benefits. Moreover, the money paid by illegal workers and their employers is factored into all the Social Security Administration’s projections. (2005 New York Times article)

Chertoff’s situation exemplifies one thing — the vast majority of these undocumented immigrants are not criminals but workers who want to do the one thing everybody who wants to earn a decent wage wants to do — work.
Isn’t it time we stopped forcing the criminal label onto undocumented immigrants to make them fit the definition of a group of narrow-minded people who in less than two months will have to start cleaning their own homes.

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Comment(6)

  • Sandra
    December 12, 2008 at 7:40 am

    The article says the SS being deducted from an illegal alien’s wages due to fake or mismatched SS numbers is in a suspense file, so how is this benefiting those Americans collecting SS now? The surplus money isn’t being used!
    It is really pathetic that anyone who is a citizen of this country would advocate profit over morality anyway.
    Most Americans clean their own houses. It is only those who are fairly well off or rich that can afford domestic help. Are we to feel sorry for them because they might have to hire legal immigrants or citizens to clean their houses at a fair wage or they mights have to clean their own homes? Whose side are you on anyway?
    One BECOMES a criminal when crossing our borders illegally. No it isn’t a felony (but it should be) but it is still against the law. I don’t care if it is a misdemeanor or a civil offense, it is still a crime in its own right.
    Some of those crossing our borders illegally were already serious criminals and worse yet some could be terrorists. Why so little concern for the American people and the safety, security and the laws of this country?

  • Michaela
    December 13, 2008 at 1:12 am

    I can clean my own housea nd mow my own lawn just fine. These illegal law breakers are not needed in this country and have NO right to be here. PERIOD!!!!!

  • Irma
    December 15, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Borders can be changed -as can laws.
    We will work within the system to change the laws.
    I seriously doubt that there are “terrorists” coming over through the
    Southern border of the United States.
    It would be smarter to go through
    the Northern border during the winter – it is relatively unguarded.
    So the terrorism argument is bogus.
    All recent known terrorists were either born in the US ( Timothy McVeigh) or
    came in by plane from another country
    (9/11 ). Name one “terrorist” that came in through Mexico.
    Indeed,the best way to guard the Southern US border is to improve
    relations with Mexico via guestworker programs and immigration reform.
    Mexico would then be motivated to
    encourage its citzens who live along the border to “guard the border.”
    Border security would definitely be
    sronger if both countries were equally
    committed.

  • Sandra
    December 17, 2008 at 7:52 am

    It has already been stated by the FBI Director that people from known terrorist countries have entered our southern border illegally and disappeared into our country. So that shoots a whole in your theory that terrorists are not entering our country in this manner and it isn’t bogus. Just because they haven’t done their dirty deed yet, doesn’t prove anything. In fact there was a story about a year ago about some terrorists that did enter through our southern border and were caught. The swarthy type from the Middle East can pass easily for Mexicans and they do.
    No, the answer isn’t to favor Mexico and Mexicans with more guest worker programs because it isn’t to the benefit of this country. Our population is already at 300 million. Besides, if we need more foreign workers we should be giving immigrants from all over the world in equal numbers a shot at the American Dream, not just Mexicans or other Latinos. Mexican citizens guarding the border? LOL!
    I agree with one thing you said and that is that both the U.S. and Mexico should be committed to guard our southern border and prevent illegal immigration but Mexico won’t cooperate by making sure their citizens have jobs in their country so they won’t come here. All those remittances that the illegals send home to Mexico, Mexico likes it that way! They dump their poor on us and reap the benefits!
    The answer is to let Mexico know that we are not caring for their citizens by tolerating illegal immigration from their country anymore. We need to keep erecting that double fence where it is feasible, beef up our BP and security technology at the border, implement e-verify in the workplace, deny any benefits to illegal aliens, rescind the birthright citizenship clause for them and continue with internal enforcement until we can send as many back to their homelands as we can.

  • Sandra
    December 21, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Irma,
    “Borders can be changed”? Are you suggesting that the USA become part of Mexico or vice versa?
    Why would you seriously doubt that terrorists are entering right along with the illegal aliens? Our southern border is so porous that it allowed for 20+ million illegal aliens to get through, duh! As I stated above the FBI Director has already confirmed that those from known terrorists countries have slipped right in along with those looking for work and so have criminals. Do you care at all about that? Just because the last group of terrorists who did harm to our country came through our Canadian border doesn’t mean that will always be the path they will take. Besides they came with visas, so they didn’t “sneak” in. About a year ago, there was a story about a couple of people who came through our southern border with intent to harm us but they were caught before they could do their dirty deed. It takes years of planning to pull of what happened on 9/11 and just because it hasn’t happened yet again, doesn’t mean that it won’t.
    No, the best way to guard our southern border and our northern border is to really secure them by a physical barrier and to put the military on our borders. We already have several guest worker programs and that hasn’t stopped illegal immigration, has it? Your answer is to take in millions more immigrants as Mexico dictates and that will secure our border? That makes no sense at all!
    Mexico will never be committed to not dump their poor on us as it is too finanically beneficial for them to do that. That way they don’t have to create jobs for them and take care of their own and just sit back and rake in the remittances sent back home.
    Our border security shouldn’t be blackmailed in that manner. We should only be concerned about our citizens and our legal immigrants and let Mexico learn to fend for itself.

  • Michaela
    December 21, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Irma said:
    “Borders can be changed -as can laws.
    We will work within the system to change the laws.”
    What do you mean by this statement Irma? You cannot be serious in thinking the United States would “change” the border along Mexico and Texas. If they do, they will certainly have to pay us for the land as we paid Santa Ana in 1848 for this land.

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