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June 10, 1984 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1984-06-10

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Page 6
0 be mitbigan ate
Vol. XCIV, No. 15-S
94 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by Students at
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board

Sunday, June 10, 1984

The Michigan Daily

The road to oppression


Hands off Stoney Burke
THE ANN ARBOR police have come up
with another in what appears to be a series
of unique interpretations of the Constitution:
The First Amendment really reads "citizens
may say whatever they want as long as it meets
the Ann Arbor police standards for good taste."
Diag regular Stoney Burke found out this
week while he was being his usually offensive
self, shouting obscenities as part of his ongoing
social commentary. Part of that commentary
allegedly included a "fuck you" directed at
an Ann Arbor police officer. The officer didn't
take kindly to Burke's repeated remarks, so he
arrested the self-proclaimed clown. Burke now
faces charges of disturbing the public peace.
Burke, though, has done nothing to disturb
the public peace, especially in the Diag, no mat-
ter how offensive his speech was. Part of the
special character of the Diag is that
someone-anyone-can get on a soapbox and
shout whatever he pleases. Other Diag pundits
often are far more offensive, calling passers-by
whores and condemning them to hell.
Perhaps the Ann Arbor Police Department
has forgotten that the First Amendment protec-
ts all speech, not just that speech which does
not offend people. The idea was to be able to
stand up and say what you had to say without
worrying about being thrown in jail because the
government didn't like it.
Burke is used to this sort of police reaction to
his antics. He said he has been arrested on
similar charges "12 or 13 times," but the
charges dropped each time. Earlier this week,
disorderly conduct charges stemming from an
incident in Detroit during the 1980 Republican
National Convention were dropped.
The Ann Arbor Police officer may not have
thought Burke's remarks added anything to the
discussion of the topics on which Burke was ex-
pounding. But it is not the police's-or anyone
else's-right to make that judgment. It is the
Ann Arbor police which has disturbed the peace
in the diag, not Stoney Burke.
Unsigned editorials ap-
pearing on the left side
of this page represent a
majority opinion of the
Daily's Editorial Board.

By Charles Thomson
It's quite disturbing, of course,
that the House of Represen-
tatives is about to consider
legislation which will have us all
carrying around a national iden-
tification card within three years.
It's just as bad that the same bill
will effectively require, for the
first time, U.S. citizens to have
the permission of their gover-
nment before takinga job.
What's really galling, however,
is the righteous indignation with
which the supporters of the Sim-
pson-Mazzoli Immigration Act
react when questioned about
their bill's controversial
THE BILL attempts to cure
what is euphemistically referred
to as the "immigration
problem": the flow of thousands
of documented and undocumen-
ted workers into the United
States each year. It combines a
unique and unprecedented com-
bination of sanctions for em-
ployers who hire illegal aliens, of-
ficial documentation for all U.S.
citizens, and amnesty for the
illegal aliens already in the coun-
When questioned, Simpson-
Mazzoli supporters invariably
start tossing words around like
"good government," "bipartisan
cooperation," and "complete
agreement." They ask how
anyone could seriously be against
them. In fact, to listen to the Sim-
pson gang, you'd think the bill is
the best proposal to come out of
Washington since the repeal of
Prohibition. The idea, apparen-
tly, is to so slather the thing in
praise that even Carrie Nation
would have to support it.
Unfortunately, the reality of
the Simpson bill, which will be
before the full House for final ap-
proval this week-is far different.
If passed, the bill promises to
significantly increase federal
harrassment of employers, to ex-
pand the potential for invasions
of privacy, and to end once and for
all the U.S. tradition of providing
a sanctuary for the world's op-
pressed. It is, in fact, a monster
of a bill-tinged with economic
nationalism, no small amount of
racism, and an almost fanatical
desire for social control.
EVEN THE basic premise of
the bill is fallacious. Its suppor-
ters argue that the recent influx
of Hispanic immigrants are
driving down wages, taking away
jobs from U.S. citizens, and
causing a deterioration in
working conditions.
The argument should sound
familiar: It is a carbon copy of
the one used against, variously,
the Irish, the Italians, the Ger-
mans, the Slavs, and other ethnic
groups who came to this country.
The argument has a certain ap-
peal, especially to politicians who

would like very much to blame
the nation's economic woes on
something besides their own
ineptitude. The problem is the
theory has almost no basis in
economic reality.
A number of recent studies, in
fact, suggest that immigration,
even on a large scale, is good for
the economy. Although they may
initially take some jobs from
American workers, immigrants
in the long run create at least as
many jobs as they take-maybe
more. Immigrants tend to spend
more of their incomes than
natives, increasing the demand
for goods and, ultimately,
production workers. They also
are much more likely to start
small businesses than the native
population, and small businesses
are the most important source of
newly created jobs in the U.S.
IN ORDER to solve this
"problem" of immigration, the
Simpson-Mazzoli bill proposes to
place unprecedented federal con-
trols over all U.S. citizens, not
just illegal immigrants. The
theory is that the only way to stop
illegal immigration is to have the
federal government make sure
that no one is employing any of
the illegals.
As a result, the cornerstone of
the bill is the civil and criminal
penalties that will be imposed on
virtually any employer who
knowingly hires an illegal alien
or fails to follow the bill's
prescribed standards for
"citizenship verification" of all
In the future, before you can
take a job, you will have to prove
to your employer that you are a
U.S. citizen. At first, a driver's
license, a passport, or a social
security card will be enough. But
after three years, things will get
nasty. The president is required
to establish some kind of "secure
system"-most think it will be in
the form of a tamper-proof card
issued to all working
Americans-to determine em-
ployment eligibility. You will
have the choice of presenting the
card to each new employer or
simply not working.
THE SUPPORTERS of the bill
swear up and down that this will
not be a national identification
card. They point to provisions in
the Senate-passed version of the
bill which purports to prohibit the
government from either
requiring the card to be carried
on the person or using the card
for general law enforcement pur-
But there are a couple very
good reasons to be skeptical
about those assurances. First,
the federal government doesn't
exactly have a terrific track
record on matters of individual
privacy and means of mass iden-
tification.These are, afterall, all the
same folks who brought us the

social security number. The
social security number, at the
time it was created, was "never
to be used for identification."
Within a few years, that charade
was over, and the number was on
every driver's license, student
ID, lease, credit application,
bank account, and hospital
record in the nation. A number of
groups, including the American
Civil Liberties Union, forsee a
similar scenario for the national
"employment verification" card.
SECONDLY, THE bill itself
seems to create a powerful con-
stituency-the nation's em-
ployers-which will push for
weaker controls over the iden-
tification card. Under a series of
U.S. Supreme Court cases, the
Immigration and Naturalization
Service has been given authority
to raid a factory and arrest
suspected illegal immigrants on
the basis of "Hispanic appearan-
ce" alone. If those cases continue
to be good law after the passage
of Simpson-Mazzoli; employers
will find themselves ina very dif-
ficult position. If they hire
Hispanics-even if they are ab-
solutely certain they are U.S.
citizens-they could still face
substantial harassment from INS
agents. Their employees would
not necessarily be able to prove
themselves "eligible" for em-
ployment during a INS raid, since
they cannot be forced to carry
their cards. Employers will
respond by doing two things: Fir-
st, stop hiring Hispanics, and
second, write their congressper-
son a letter asking that their em-
ployeers be required to carry
their ID's at all times.
Simpson-Mazzolli bill has drawn
bitter opposition from the ACLU,
a host of Hispanic rights
organizations, and even the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce.
Much of the opposition,
however, has gone unheard. So
far, at least, the mom-and-apple-
pie adulation strategy seems to
have worked. Even the most
virulent critics of the bill now
concede that is has an excellent
chance of passage if it makes it
out to the House floor tomorrow
as promised.
Thomson is editor of the
Daily's Opinion Page.





Letters and columns
represent the opinions of the
individual author(s) and do
not necessarily reflect the at-
titudes or beliefs of the Daily.


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