Opportunists and Simplistic Solutions: Grasping at the Coronavirus Pandemic Like a Straw

By Dan Cadman on March 16, 2020

It is amazing to me that, as the American public becomes deeply worried about the spreading coronavirus pandemic, with increasing frequency we have begun seeing opportunists seizing on the moment to try to achieve some pet aim under cover of our fears.

For instance, Sen. Ben Sasse recently publicly chided House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her cohorts for slipping a provision into the coronavirus funding bill the House was preparing that would have overcome the Hyde Amendment, a longstanding law prohibiting use of taxpayer dollars for abortion aid. Whatever one thinks of the Hyde Amendment, the time and circumstance for that maneuver were as wrong as wrong could be.

But politicians aren't alone in seizing on the pandemic to advance their goals. I recently wrote about the botched effort to mandate E-Verify statewide in Florida, and noted that a powerful business coalition and its "immigration outreach" arm used coronavirus as an excuse to oppose the Florida Senate bill. To quote the Washington Examiner:

The American Business Immigration Coalition's (ABIC) Immigration Partnership & Coalition (IMPAC) Fund offered statements against both measures from a range of opponents, including from Florida GOP Chair Al Cárdenas, MBF Healthcare Partners Chair Mike Fernández, former Carnival Cruise Lines CEO Bob Dickinson, DiMare Fresh CEO Paul "Mr. Tomato" DiMare and other state business leaders.

"While we welcome the amendment filed in the House that removes the most egregious provisions from the senate proposal, ABIC and IMPAC Fund remain opposed to any version of mandatory E-Verify in Florida, especially while our state is in the midst of a public health emergency with the spread of coronavirus," ABIC Director of Communications Alia El-Assar said in a statement. [Emphasis added.]

The rationale seems to be, "As infected workers drop out of the workforce through hospitalization or quarantine, we want to be able to hire illegal aliens to replace them without worrying about pettifogging electronic verification systems that would screen them out as ineligible for employment".

But why would anyone think that the replacement workers — especially given the strong likelihood of their being in the United States illegally, and quite possibly recent border-crossers from who-knows-where — would be coronavirus-free? If testing kits were readily and universally available, what percentage of these replacement workers should themselves be quarantined?

In another instance of seizing on coronavirus for one's own purposes, my colleague Art Arthur wrote about the Washington Post and Vox both asserting that holding aliens in detention adversely affects "vulnerable" people and therefore is in some way unjust or morally wrong. I won't repeat Arthur's detailed and on-the-mark response here; just go to our website and read it yourself.

It's no surprise, though, that WaPo and Vox aren't alone. Writing in Mother Jones, Noah Lanard takes their theme even further and directly asserts, "ICE Is Ignoring a Simple Way to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus: Let People Out of Detention". It's pretty clear that he's using coronavirus as a hobby-horse to advocate against immigration detention simply because he doesn't like immigration detention, and what better opportunity to argue his point?

Lanard cites the fact that institutional conditions often result in passing of contagion. While that's true, it's worth considering that a significant proportion of the aliens in ICE detention are criminals. What is the cost to the American people of putting them back on the streets? That hasn't worked out so well for the denizens of many of the sanctuary cities that routinely practice that kind of revolving door "justice". Time after time, case after case, we see instances where just-released criminal aliens go on to commit more crimes. Consider, also, that it took ICE agents a tremendous amount of time and effort to take many of those criminal aliens into custody because they had to do it swimming against the current of official state and local sanctuary policies, after those individuals had been put on the street by police or courts to begin with. It would be absurd to go through all of that and then release them to drift about as they wish, creating mayhem wherever they land.

As to the other, noncriminal aliens held in detention: There is a stronger likelihood by far of their being tested for coronavirus by health officers assigned to detention centers than if they were simply allowed to wander the streets directly after being arrested and processed. And if they are tested and found positive, should we in the public really believe that they would voluntarily self-quarantine if released from detention? Apparently Lanard thinks so, but I'd prefer not to entrust my extended family's health to his judgment on the matter, thanks very much.

Topics: Health Care