(Sara Michele Crusade) – When word spread that I was going to be interviewing candidates for the Las Vegas mayoral race some people, especially my step-dad, asked me to look into the immigration ideologies of the candidates running.
The mayor of Las Vegas, while not in charge of the Sheriff’s Department, should have an opinion, at the very least, about illegal immigration and the impact that it is having on the city. While I have not yet had the opportunity to interview all of the candidates (some just don’t seem receptive), I have discussed the topic with the four candidates I have interviewed thus far.
I was surprised by some of the answers I received; because it was as if some of the candidates live in a vacuum, and some are in denial a problem even exists. The first mayoral candidate I interviewed and broached the subject with was Katherine Duncan, the Green candidate; though I have not clarified that she is actually a member of the Green Party as the mayoral race is non-partisan.
Kudos to Duncan for answering my questions about immigration square on. She was clear that immigrants, or potential immigrants, to this country need to comply with the rules already in place.
Duncan said matter-of-factly, “I do not want to support other people with my taxes who do not contribute.” Yeah for Katherine Duncan! Although sadly, time prohibited me asking deeper questions about whether or not she would address the issue as mayor.
The second candidate I was fortunate enough to interview was Councilman Steve Ross of Ward 6. I had initially contacted Ross, as a constituent, through a referral from a friend of my mother’s. Since I had then decided to get involved in profiling the mayoral race, I pushed for an interview, and Ross was kind enough to respond. On the day of the face-to-face interview, I forgot to query Ross about his stance on immigration; I got very enamored of his pro-gun, pro-NRA outlook. I emailed him when I got home, however.
Ross’ answer was short but fairly in alignment with Duncan’s, “The City has very limited authority other than setting policy or resolution. My answer to that would be better enforcement of existing immigration laws. With our unemployment rate exceeding 14% in the city, something must be done.” I totally concur, but have yet to find anyone willing to suggest what must be done other than enforcement of existing immigration laws; which we can clearly see isn’t happening.
I had heard a little about the third candidate I interviewed, George Harris, as he is purported to be a Republican, and despite the fact the mayoral race is non-partisan, people want to make a big deal about party affiliation anyway; as if being a Republican candidate makes you the best one on the grounds you’re Republican. So I was excited to find out where Harris stands on immigration and gun rights.
When I queried Harris on illegal immigration, I mentioned the Mexicans who stand on the corners, especially near Star Nursery, waiting for day labor jobs. Harris took umbrage with my query, stating that most of the illegal immigrants in this country are Canadian, Russian, and Middle Eastern, not Mexican. That’s when I learned that Harris is of Mexican descent. Live and learn.
Harris told me that not all illegal immigrants are criminals and he educated me to the fact that the United States did, at one time, invite illegal immigrants over here to work in the fields, gave them social security cards, and sent them to Las Vegas when the farming work dried up.
I’ve never understood how people can use the term “illegal immigrant” and the phrase “not a criminal” in the same sentence, so I pointed out that being here illegally is a crime. That’s when I got the education on past practices of our federal government. So I mentioned, in earnest, that illegal immigration is a problem to me, because my son has had his social security number stolen by two separate illegal immigrants who have worked on it since he was 14 years old.
Harris seemed somewhat defensive when he stated the thieves were probably Russian, and taken aback when I confirmed they were Mexican.
I looked up the statistics regarding illegal immigration and the nationalities that enter this country the most. Apparently, according to a 2005 Pew Hispanic Center report quoted on Wikipedia, 56% of illegal immigrants were from Mexico; 22% were from other Latin American countries, primarily from Central America; 13% were from Asia; 6% were from Europe and Canada; and 3% were from Africa and the rest of the world.
According to statics compiled from the 2010 census and documented by the Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanics accounted for 58% of the population growth in the 33 states counted; there are 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, 8 million are in the workforce and Mexicans make up the largest group of unauthorized immigrants.
The fourth candidate I had the pleasure of interviewing, thus far, was Victor Chaltiel, himself an immigrant to this great country from France. Chaltiel was surprised at the record number of illegal immigrants working in Las Vegas. When I explained the statistic I learned that 80% of the service workers in the hotels (housekeepers and such) are undocumented aliens, Chaltiel seemed flabbergasted. He appeared genuinely to not know.
“I am for legal immigration,” stated Chaltiel, as he shared his belief that the country should be open for legal immigrants, but not illegal immigrants; and he made a point to report that he went through all the legal steps to become citizen. Chaltiel commented that he uses E-Verify with his employees. He stated public officials that encourage illegal immigration or turn a blind eye to it are corrupt.
With certainty, Chaltiel avowed, “Corruption is the enemy of capitalism!” Unfortunately, time ran out for our meeting and I did not get to delve further into whether or not Chaltiel would work to set a policy or resolution for the city regarding illegal immigration, as Ross had mentioned.
I don’t know where the other mayoral candidates stand on the issue of illegal immigration, but then I don’t know where they stand on any issues, as I have not interviewed them; some not for a lack of trying. It is clear to me that, besides jobs, immigration is an issue to Las Vegans, especially when you factor in the number of jobs Las Vegans could have if undocumented workers didn’t.
And please don’t espouse the tired line that illegal immigrants work the jobs we Americans won’t. That may have been true at one time, when our economy was booming and we didn’t have record deficits at state and national levels, but not now.
I urge all the mayoral candidates to take a stand and let voters know, not only how jobs will be created, but how we can get our jobs back from those who’ve no legal right to work them.