As we approach the midterm elections there’re no shortage of issues, but few have had the staying power like the question of immigration. In the latest Tough Things First podcast, Ray Zinn talks border protection and protecting immigrants from abuse.
Rob Artigo: Welcome back to another edition of the Tough Things First Podcast. I’m your guest host, Rob Artigo. I’m a writer and entrepreneur in California. Hi Ray.
Ray Zinn: Hello, Rob. Good to be with you again.
Rob Artigo: It’s great to be back. For decades it seems we’ve been talking about this big deal of immigration reform in this country and it has certainly been more political football, I think, and probably more like political theater, than a matter of action for politicians in this country. So today, we have a president trying to do something and if you listen to the news, you’d think immigration was never an issue before today, particularly what’s going on on the border, as if the president had invented the problems of immigration in this country. So let’s talk about immigration in general. Do we need immigration at all? I think we do.
Ray Zinn: I do. I believe that. So let me give you a quick story. So a few weeks ago, my neighbor called and said that there are some cattle on my property up at North hills here in Montana, and there’s discourse, there’s no buildings on it. It’s a large ranch. I said, “Well, how’d they get in?”
He says, “Well, apparently somebody opened the gate and just let them in.”
I said, “Was there any chance at all that the animals opened it themselves?”
He says, “No way, because the gate is tied securely to the fence,” and that really irritated me.
So I called the sheriff and I said, “Hey, I’ve got somebody’s cattle on my ranch and they’ve opened the gate up and letting them feed on my property.”
Then the sheriff says, “Well, do you know who they are?”
I says, “No.”
He says, “Well, it’s kind of open territory for grazing.”
I said, “No it’s not. This is my property.”
He said, “Well, we’re not really into enforcing trespassing.”
I said, “What do you mean?”
He says, “There’s a law against it.” He says, “Well, I know, but I’m not a landowner and probably none of my guys here are landowners and so it doesn’t really bother us.”
So it’s what it is. It depends upon the personal belief of the people that have to enforce it. It really irritated me that … I paid to have the sheriff, his job here with my taxes and I expect them to enforce a law. But they are not that excited about enforcing the law.
So in the case of Trump, he’s going to enforce a law that’s unique in an area that is not considered a big deal to a lot of people, especially if they live in some of the urban areas. They get to use these people to help clean their homes or take care of their yards and that sort of thing. So they don’t see the big deal. This is the issue, is that now you have somebody trying to enforce the law and those who are not … it doesn’t bother them, “It’s not in my backyard,” so to speak, then they’re more than willing to close one eye to it. I think that’s the bigger issue.
Rob Artigo: When we look at the border and we’re talking about illegal immigration, we have legal immigration versus illegal immigration. Are we conflating sometimes the two issues as if I think the people who are pro enforcement of our border laws get accused of being anti-immigration. Can you put those two things together or is it just part of political practice?
Ray Zinn: It’s political practice. That’s just nonsense. They’re just saying, “Well, immigration is immigration.” Again, it goes back to how they believe. I had no trespassing signs all over my ranch, but that didn’t seem to stop people from coming in and using the property. Even though there are laws to protect trespassing, if they don’t want to obey it, they … just like in the case that I found a few weeks ago that this person just opened the gate up and let the cattle feed on my property. That’s the problem. The problem is really one of convenience. If it’s not affecting you, then you don’t care. So I think to some degree anything that Trump does is going to be irritating to the other side. They’re just going to … if they say, “The sky is blue,” and Trump says, “Hey, from now on the sky is blue,” they’re going to say, “Now we’re going to make it green.” So it doesn’t matter what he says, they’re going to go against him.
Rob Artigo: Yeah. It was something that was very pronounced, and I don’t want to get into the supreme court nominee thing, but just using your example here is, they were ready, the opposition was ready to pounce when the Supreme Court nominee was announced and you automatically had as if it was all, I don’t know, like a bow with an arrow and it being … it was already pulled back. It didn’t matter who the person was who was announced. They would just drop the name in and just say, “Here’s the criticism.” You have people who will … they have a need to, one, get out the vote by inspiring people with rage and anger and frustration or whatever, to get out the vote for their side, not the president’s side. So they’re going to come out and they’re going to use that criticism as a way to a wedge issue. That’s a wedge issue and then immigration is a wedge issue.
But from my perspective, this is why the, I want to call it … I’ll just do it for lack of a better term, let’s just say the left. One of the reasons why the left has been talking about immigration reform and demanding immigration reform but not doing anything about it, is they need the issue for political purposes. They don’t need to solve it. They need the issue to be there so they can use it as a wedge issue to get out the vote.
Ray Zinn: Again, it’s the fact that Trump is now enforcing the illegal immigration laws, and so anything he does is going to be irritating to the other side, just because he’s just irritating to them, period. The laws are here to be enforced and in my case about trespassing on, which is … by the way, illegal immigration is trespassing. So basically the same rule, same law. So people are going to, they’re going to speed, they’re going to do whatever they want if they don’t believe in obeying the law. So if you don’t enforce a law, people are going to ultimately just assume that they’re not going to get caught and prosecuted.
So whether it be speed limits, speed issue or whether it be running a stop sign, or whatever it is, if you’re law abiding, you’ll obey the law. If you’re not law abiding, you’ll break the law whenever it’s convenient. As long as you feel you’re not going to get caught. Just look at the number of people that are using the carpool lane illegally. They know they’re doing wrong, absolutely know it, but they do it because number one, they think they can get away with it. Number two is, they’re kind of thumbing their nose at the whole concept of the carpool lane.
Rob Artigo: Who created the problem? It seems to have gotten worse. Obviously nobody created the problem of illegal immigration, but I mean, can some of the blame go on the previous president for I guess getting the message out there that, “Hey, if you want to come up here and come here illegally, we’ll just let you come in and do whatever you want.” Because we did have a massive influx of people from South America coming up through … using mules and other human smugglers and that kind of thing to get through Mexico and get to the border so that they can claim asylum or just simply get in here illegally. Just tons of kids were coming, and imagine how dangerous that was. But that didn’t start with Donald Trump, that was something that was happening before Donald Trump was elected president.
Ray Zinn: It’s been happening since I’ve been a young man, They were coming across working in the fields, and my parents were an agricultural family and they were coming across looking for work and they were illegal then. So when the immigration would be coming around checking each of the ranches, they’d have a spotter out and they would yell out, “Hey, here comes the immigration,” and these guys would all scatter. Then the government made it illegal for you to even hire an illegal alien, and it’s still against the law for anybody, whether it be somebody in downtown San Jose or out in the fields of Kentucky. If you hire somebody who’s not legal to work, you’re breaking the law. Apparently, they don’t care. It’s something that doesn’t bother people because they’re just assuming that number one, their neighbor is doing it or everybody else is doing it, so it’s okay. The problem is rampant, and we’re part of the problem in the fact that we hire these people, and we know we’re not supposed to, but we still do it anyway.
Rob Artigo: Well, yeah, cheap labor is one of the reasons why there’s an appeal to doing that. If you need somebody to work in your yard, you can go by Home Depot and pick up a couple of guys.
Ray Zinn: Absolutely.
Rob Artigo: Right there in the lot, the day laborers, and you can get them at an inexpensive rate, much less than you could if you were paying for somebody who was paying for a business license and business taxes and all the expenses that go along with having employees.
Ray Zinn: Yeah, because you have to pay them. You have to pay for the medical. You have to pay for the workers’ comp, all that gets tacked on and so if you figure that you can hire somebody off the street for $10 to $15 an hour who’s an illegal, to hire it through a contract agency, some gardening service or home cleaning service, your rate’s going to go up to $30 to $40 an hour because of all the fringe benefits that have to be paid or should be paid to those workers. Again, everybody tries to save money and they just say, “Well, I can go down to,” as you said, “To Home Depot and pick them up for $10 to $15 an hour, or I can hire a service to come in and pay double to triple that.”
Rob Artigo: Right. Is it something that will be solved? Is this something that we can solve?
Ray Zinn: Well, I think we have to decide, “Do we want to solve it?” So if you have no control whatsoever over the immigration, then of course we run into other problems of like drugs and illegal arms coming in and other unattractive and things that happen if you don’t protect your borders. Europe is facing that now big time, and so you have to have law enforcement activities on our borders because you need to protect your border. The consequence of that is good people, is very talented and good people who are willing to work in your yard or in your home construction, are going to pay the price for it because they’re going to be doing this illegally, and those who hire them are doing it illegally. But two wrongs don’t make a right.
Rob Artigo: I’ll just end by adding this one thought, and that was, Cesar Chavez who was the … he was a big farming labor activist in California and he dealt a lot with grapes and other produce. He was very much anti-illegal immigration. It’s an interesting thing, they do not bring this up about him, but he was anti-illegal immigration because the laborers in California were having their jobs and their wages pushed down by illegal immigration. So he was anti-illegal immigration. He was very much for the laborers who came from Mexico legally to do seasonal work. He was a champion of civil rights for those people, but he was anti-illegal immigration.
Ray Zinn: Well again, we have to remember that the health benefits, the other things that are, workers’ comp, those things, if they’re not being paid, then it’s going to come out of each of our taxpayers’ pocket. Because at some point when an illegal labor gets injured or has some medical problem, they’re not paying for that and you’re not paying for it, vis-à-vis your hourly wage you pay the worker. So at some point it comes out of your pocket through the taxes you pay to cover those illegals.
Rob Artigo: And the illegals are harmed repeatedly by people who would take advantage of them because of their illegal status and it becomes slave labor in many situations. So our system of failing to enforce the laws actually enables those people out there who are taking advantage of workers from Mexico or who are here illegally and creating slave labor situations. Nobody is doing the immigration situation a favor by inviting people here to come here in mass illegally or by virtue of not enforcing the laws. Just letting people do whatever they want to do, then you’ve got people who are taking advantage of them and that’s not fair.
Ray Zinn: Yep. Well, this has been a good subject.
Rob Artigo: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for your time Ray. We could let everybody know, to find out more about Tough Things First, at toughthingsfirst.com, there is the Tough Things First on Facebook and LinkedIn, and the book’s out there on Amazon.
Ray Zinn: The new book, Zen of Zinn. We want them to go look at that new book because I think they’ll find it very beneficial to them.
Rob Artigo: Fresh off the presses. Thanks again Ray.
Ray Zinn: Thank you Rob.