It’s a little-known fact* that my first attempt at a sociological blog was focused on immigration, as was my first research project as a sociologist. I did a lot of immigration activism in undergrad, and devoted a lot of time to following the immigration debates. As a result, I couldn’t resist the urge to blog about this story (h/t to Andrew Gelman):
In Lou Dobbs’s heyday at CNN, when he commanded more than 800,000 viewers and a reported $6 million a year for “his fearless reporting and commentary,” in the words of former CNN president Jonathan Klein, the host became notorious for his angry rants against “illegal aliens.” But Dobbs reserved a special venom for the employers who hire them, railing against “the employer who is so shamelessly exploiting the illegal alien and so shamelessly flouting US law” and even proposing, on one April 2006 show, that “illegal employers who hire illegal aliens” should face felony charges.
But with his relentless diatribes against “illegals” and their employers, Dobbs is casting stones from a house—make that an estate—of glass. Based on a yearlong investigation, including interviews with five immigrants who worked without papers on his properties, The Nation and the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute have found that Dobbs has relied for years on undocumented labor for the upkeep of his multimillion-dollar estates and the horses he keeps for his 22-year-old daughter, Hillary, a champion show jumper.
Oh, Lou Dobbs. If the sheer hypocrisy didn’t move you, the working conditions of the laborers – paid low wages, no insurance, no benefits, no overtime, etc. – hopefully will. Overall, I think Andrew Gelman is wise in his interpretation:
What I’m saying is that Dobbs’s situation illustrates the general entanglement of illegal immigrants in the economy. In addition to pointing out Dobbs’s hypocrisy, we could also turn it around and say: hey, hiring legal workers is so difficult that even Lou Dobbs–who presumably is motivated not to–still can’t avoid doing it.
Immigration reform now, please.
* Not really.