According to the MDJ, the federal Immigration lawyer backed out of the private meeting this week on dealing with our immigrant population, but Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee is asking that it be rescheduled. Maybe Lee needs a little history lesson.
In the first week of June 1995, I got off the elevator on the 3rd floor of my office building and watched in shock as a series of helicopters, police cars and black ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) vans arrived at the construction site across the street, the foundation that was to become the new State Court Building for Cobb County. They were there to “detain all Hispanic-looking workers” working at that site.
Shortly after the first attack wave, sheriff’s school buses arrived to carry off the “offenders.”
That was the week when I celebrated the 38th anniversary of my graduation from Annapolis, when, as part of my graduation, I had repeated my oath to “preserve and protect” the Constitution of these United States.
I went home that day, wondering how such a thing could have happened. I asked that question of this newspaper and its readers then, too.
Now I see that in Wednesday’s newspaper, the way that our local government will deal with our illegal immigrant population cannot yet be given the cleansing effect of sunshine and fresh air.
Chairman Lee and Commissioner Helen Goreham have now engineered a private meeting with our county’s lawyers and ICE lawyers to discuss how to draft regulations to interface with a federal program called IMAGE that would ensure that Cobb employers employ only citizens.
That’s probably not a bad idea, if the program also contemplates some accommodation for the changes in immigration law which seem imminent from the recent news from both Republican and Democrat Washington. How are these 10 million undocumented immigrant workers to survive in order to receive the benefits of the anticipated program changes if they can’t work in the interim?
This reminds me of a plan whose remnants still remain in certain areas of this county. I heard it described as “Don’t come north of the river,” a rule to live by, for the blacks in metropolitan Atlanta.
The same logic seems to apply to the rush for a private meeting to try to make Cobb County unacceptably hostile to a portion of our immigrant population — at least long enough to make the problem go away.
Seventeen years later, and we still have everything but the helicopters.
Editor’s note: Mr. Pelphrey is a retired lawyer who ran unsuccessfully against Newt Gingrich for Congress in 1998.