Big immigration question: What happens next?

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Was the immigration raid Thursday on local McDonald's restaurants the opening shot in a battle that will finally solve this problem in Northern Nevada? Or was it nothing more than an isolated enforcement action that will soon be forgotten as we return to business as usual?

It's difficult to say at this juncture, but one thing became very clear after last week's raids in Reno and elsewhere: A little bit of enforcement goes a long way. While about 50 people were detained after the raids, many more undocumented workers decided not to go to work the next day. In other words, to solve the illegal alien problem there is no need to round up all undocumented workers. The mere threat of enforcement by ICE could be all that is needed to convince illegal aliens that it is not worth the effort it takes to cross the border. That's something that was also demonstrated in the agricultural fields of California, where the lack of farmworkers, deterred by stepped up enforcement, left some crops to rot.

But it appears that no further enforcement is forthcoming here, as ICE says it does not conduct random raids, only those resulting from investigations.

The other thing that Thursday's raids proved is that our existing laws can be effective if enforced. A broken system is not the problem; rather, it's a lack of commitment that goes directly to President Bush. The nation's economy is becoming more and more dependent on the cheap labor provided by undocumented workers, something that's also true in Nevada. In other words, being anti-illegal immigration equates to being anti-business, something the president is well aware of.

Unless he's able to make a tough choice, the enforcement we saw last week, and the ripple effect it created, may soon become little more than a memory.


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