The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Americans yawn after sanctuary restaurants close


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • May. 10, 2017 - 11:07 PM

Every May Day, just as surely as the sun sets in the west, protesters - anarchists, really - take to the streets. Under the guise of defending workers, they rail against what they perceive as unjust immigration laws.

Over the decades, the gatherings have provided an excellent example of illegal immigrants and their advocates preaching to the choir. Large throngs of angry people hoisting banners and charging that xenophobic immigration laws break up families haven't changed a single mind in the enforcement-oriented crowd, the precise audience they must convince. Worse, name-calling turns off Americans conflicted about whether immigration is a plus or a minus for the nation. For those on the fence, their takeaway is that, despite their illegal presence, aliens get numerous benefits, most significantly, free, taxpayer-funded K-12 education for their children, and have little to gripe about.

This year, the protests included a different twist. In solidarity with the May Day marchers, “sanctuary” restaurants closed, and issued a warning that unless President Trump backs off from his commitment to deport illegal immigrants, Americans might never be able to eat out again. For sheer comedic value, that threat is hard to beat.

The latest sanctuary craze, if you will, has hit the restaurant industry. Since President Trump's inauguration, owners, workers and advocates allege that anxiety, fear and sleeplessness have overwhelmed them. In self-defense, they formed a group to, as described on their website, create a safe environment for immigrants (illegal aliens), as they combat racism and hatred. The website also provides a map that identifies where sanctuary restaurants can be patronized.

But outrageously, sanctuary restaurants claim to "proudly comply with all laws." By that, the owners must mean that they accept fraudulently submitted I-9 forms without checking. Hiring illegal aliens violates 8 U.S. Code 1324a, and is a crime, as is falsifying employment forms, and harboring, aiding and abetting aliens. E-Verify, a program restaurateurs have no interest in, would immediately indicate whether or not a newly hired employee is legally authorized to work in the United States.

Owners' insistence that they're in compliance with "all the laws" isn't the most jaw-dropping statement made to defend sanctuary restaurants. In a CNN video posted online, a pro-immigration advocate said that the industry consensus is that, without illegal immigrant labor, the restaurant business will "collapse." Even though this gross exaggeration is easily debunked, the CNN reporter left it to stand unchallenged.

To end their nail biting, owners should hire Americans. Most restaurants do. For the record: in a Center for Immigration Studies analysis, researchers found that in the restaurant industry, bakers are 67 percent legally authorized to work; chefs, 65 percent; food preparation workers, 73 percent, and waiters and waitresses, 85 percent.

The suggestion that owners would shut down, and lose their investments and their personal profits, which Forbes reports have "gotten fatter" in recent years, is more unbridled nonsense. So go ahead and close. The U.S. has more than 620,000 restaurants open for business versus the 300 that have declared themselves sanctuaries. People looking to dine out won't have any difficulty finding a restaurant; they'll just walk across the street.

Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization senior writing fellow.