A New Angle in Defense of Illegal Immigration

The Times weeps for the plight of...big business?

Robert Pear and Carl Hulse marked the defeat of Bush's amnesty bill for illegal immigrants in Friday's off-lead story - "Immigrant Bill Dies in Senate; Defeat for Bush."

An accompanying photo provided some unwitting humor. The caption read: "Laborers from the Washington region in the Senate Reception Room yesterday awaiting the vote on overhauling immigration laws." Are these the same immigrants the Times said were hiding in the shadows?

There was labeling bias, naturally, with "conservative" opponents of the measure identified but liberal supporters not called "liberal."

"The vote followed an outpouring of criticism from conservatives and others who called it a form of amnesty for lawbreakers.

The outcome was a bitter disappointment for Mr. Bush and other supporters of a comprehensive approach, including Hispanic and church groups and employers who had been seeking greater access to foreign workers."

In a separate story, reporter Julia Preston, whose reporting tends to side with illegals, took up the cause from an unusual (for the Times) angle in "Defeat Worries Employers Who Rely on Immigrants," showinga heretofore unseen sympathy for agribusiness.

"While the defeat of the Senate immigration bill was a dismaying disappointment to illegal immigrants and the groups that support them, it also created major worries for employers across the country who depend on immigrant workers.

"Employers from food-processing industries and agriculture as well as construction contractors and commercial landscapers were among the most persistent forces pushing for passage of the Senate bill, which failed yesterday when senators voted 53 to 46 not to proceed to a vote. The measure would have provided a path to legal status for millions of illegal immigrants, who make up a significant percentage of workers in many low-wage, labor intensive industries.

The usual labeling bias applied, as "conservatives" ("irate" ones, no less) but not liberals were identified by Preston: "The bill's defeat was hailed yesterday by conservative groups and others who said it would have rewarded law-breaking immigrants and would have wrongly excused the employers who hired them. Now, employers say they face a bleak landscape of intensified raids by the immigration authorities and growing pressure to purge illegal immigrants from their work force, but no new options to bring in temporary foreign workers or help illegal workers become legal....Meatpacking employers were especially concerned about the defeat of the bill. Senate conservatives who opposed it, backed by a surge of support from irate voters, said they wanted to secure the nation's borders and crack down on employers of illegal immigrants before considering legalization measures."