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Shame On Chertoff

by Geraldo Rivera | Apr 18, 2008

It was pathetic, overblown and deeply disrespectful of the pope. On the same day last week the Holy Father and President Bush issued a joint statement affirming the need to treat immigrants humanely, preposterously over-dressed, swat-armored federal agents were arresting 300 of them in raids at five chicken plants. Officials denied the timing was intentional, and claimed the lightening, simultaneous assaults came only after a one-year long investigation.

Let me get this straight, a one-year long investigation; to discover that many, if not most workers at poultry processing plants are Mexicans or other Latin Americans here illegally? Any local boy scout could have that job in about five minutes. I wonder how many pizzas these investigative tigers have to order to figure out that most pizza delivery guys are also here illegally; how about dish washers; meat packing plant workers; lawn mower men; livery car drivers or baby sitters?

To trigger this long-planned, punitive strike on the poultry plants, and separate those mostly Catholic men from their wives and children even as the pontiff and the president were publicly acknowledging the need to protect immigrant families, was as insulting and misguided a public action as any I've heard recently.

It was reminiscent of another grievous misuse of federal power that will live on in immigration infamy, the March 6, 2007 sweep of 361 workers at the Michael Bianco Inc. leather goods factory in New Bedford Massachusetts. In that one, women pleaded with the armored ICE agents to be allowed to return to their homes to care for their small children; some said they were nursing mothers to no avail.

New Bedford and the Pilgrim Pride poultry raids are graphic examples of a federal immigration system in chaos, and the once reform-minded now enforcement only-oriented Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff owes the pope an apology. As I wrote in my book, 'His Panic;'

"That is why I hate many politicians. When necessary, they are opportunistic wind vanes. And as of this writing Judge Chertoff is pointing in the direction he thinks the anti-immigration mob wants to see."

The one deed even more down and dirty than Chertoff's was Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo's statements smearing the pope's sincerity last week. The former Catholic (now Baptist) soon to be retired representative slandered Benedict XVI and his outreach to Latinos who now account for 18 million of the nation's 65 million Roman Catholics, calling the pope's actions 'faith-based marketing.' In other words, in Tancredo's world the pope is cynically feigning compassion toward Hispanics merely to manipulate them, in the words of fellow hate-monger Lou Dobbs, "to add a few folks to those pews."

Don't you see their venom is taking us in the direction of a narrow-minded, bigoted nation? Is terrorizing otherwise innocent working people, doing jobs most of the rest of us don't want, really what we want the Department of Homeland Security to do; that and cutting a scar through the ecosystems of the southwest in the name of a security fence?    

Remember, Chertoff and Tancredo even dissed the pope.

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