By Sarah Rumpf
At a recent Orange County Republican Executive Committee meeting, we held a forum for the Republican Congressional candidates in District 24. Craig Miller apparently thinks violating our immigration laws is pretty darn funny:
I didn’t take this video, but I was at the meeting and remember being shocked at the callous way Miller answered the question. We’ve all heard Miller’s standard excuse that this is “just how the restaurant industry works.” Sorry, but in my opinion, that’s total crap. I’ve had several family members work in the nursery industry here in Orange County, and they don’t just say “this is how the nursery works” as an excuse to slack off on enforcement of our immigration laws.
According to my uncle, who has worked for two major nursery companies in Central Florida and was one of the hiring managers at his old company, says that the procedure is very simple, just ask the applicant to fill out the I-9 form and provide at least two forms of identification listed on the I-9 form. My uncle said he “wasn’t an expert” on identifying falsified IDs, and of course the government offers no real training or guidance to employers, but that the fake IDs always “looked funny:” peeling lamination, fading print, obvious misspellings, etc. He would simply question if they had another ID they could show him and they would just shrug or smile and leave.
Now contrast that to Craig Miller. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Northern District of Alabama, recently issued an order in a lawsuit filed by several employees of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse who were American citizens (Kyle Edwards v. Prime, Inc. d/b/a Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Case No. 08-AR-1016-S. Read order online here), allowing the lawsuit to proceed based on claims by employees who are U.S. Citizens that Ruth’s Chris Steak House, under Craig Miller’s management at the time, was engaged in a criminal conspiracy to suppress wages by hiring illegal aliens, including providing undocumented workers with fake Social Security Numbers, and asking them to recruit other illegal aliens to work for the steakhouse too.
Craig Miller may want to use the Rick Scott excuse of “I was just the CEO, I didn’t know anything!”, but that doesn’t erase his long, documented history of lobbying against immigration reforms. In an op-ed published in the Miami Herald on April 16, 2006, Miller whines that our immigration policies are “impossible to enforce,” and then advocates for the amnesty bill that was being sponsored by Senators Teddy Kennedy and Arlen Specter. We all see what a reliable conservative Arlen Specter turned out to be – how Craig Miller can back this Arlen Specter policy and then call himself a conservative just boggles my mind.
Anyway, one specific sentence in Miller’s op-ed stood out for me when I read it: “Clearly we can’t fix our broken immigration laws simply by enforcing them more stringently.” Miller is missing the point here. One of the biggest problems with our immigration system is that the current laws are not enforced. Does Miller mean that our immigration problems would be solved if more companies would help illegal aliens get fake IDs like that lawsuit charges Miller’s restaurants were doing?
Miller’s op-ed is bad, but hey, he has a First Amendment right to argue for whatever goofball positions he wants. What I find way more troubling than any of the nonsense Miller has said in the past, is what he has done in recent years. In his roles as chairman of the National Restaurant Association and CEO of Ruth Chris’ Steak House, Miller spent millions of dollars lobbying strongly for amnesty and against programs like e-verify.
“E-verify” is a program that requires employers submit the names and social security numbers of their job applicants, and then the SSN would be compared to the actual record. So, as an example, if an illegal immigrant applied for a job with my company, and he’s a 32 year old man named Boris from the Ukraine, and the SSN Boris put on his application actually belongs to an 84 year old woman named Betty living in Wisconsin…Gotcha!
E-verify has many benefits – it’s easy (just requires a simple computer search), not very expensive to administer, and it provides good enforcement of our immigration and employment laws while avoiding discrimination. It doesn’t ask employers to “guess” if an applicant is an illegal alien, or to use subjective judgment trying to figure out if an ID looks fake. E-verify just checks to see if the name and SSN match. No racism, no discrimination, no complications.
So why would Craig Miller lobby against e-verify? Could it be that his restaurants liked hiring illegal aliens because they could take advantage of them and pay them less and not provide benefits?
Then yesterday, we get another bundle of ridiculousness from the Miller Laugh Factory. In a Politico article regarding the District 24 Republican primary, Miller tries to claim he is actually an opponent of illegal immigration, and his campaign manager audaciously claims that Miller’s record on the issue is “flawless.”
“Flawless?” Really?! Sorry but I don’t call laughing about violating our immigration laws, getting sued for a criminal conspiracy to suppress wages by hiring illegals, and lobbying for amnesty and against e-verify “flawless.”
There’s another word that begins with “F” that I think better describes Miller’s history on the immigration issue (no, not that “F” word!): FAILURE.
Craig Miller is an absolute failure when it comes to understanding and respecting this country’s immigration laws, he is a failure as an advocate for conservative principles on this issue, and hopefully the voters will make him a failure as a Congressional candidate in a few short weeks here.
One final humorous tidbit in the Politico article: Miller’s campaign attempts to defend his record as an advocate for amnesty with this point:
On his campaign Facebook page, Miller has become a “fan” of the tough-on-immigration group Americans for Legal Immigration and the website Stand With Arizona, which supports that state’s controversial enforcement law.
Since when does being a “Facebook fan” count as real advocacy? What a flip-floppin’ joke. All that means is that Miller – or, more likely, a campaign staffer with the password to his Facebook page – clicked one little button to say that he “liked” some organization’s page. Does not mean that Miller actually knows what the organization does or that he truly supports its positions. Heck, for all we know he was just trying to say that he liked the Arizona brand ice tea or something!
I’m a “fan” of over a 100 different groups on my personal Facebook page – including some candidates who are running against candidates I’ve endorsed (helps keep track of what the other side is doing!). Becoming a “fan” on Facebook doesn’t require any work or loyalty or proof of actual support at all. If Craig Miller is pointing to his Facebook page as evidence of his immigration policies, then he really must have nothing else to show the voters.
Mr. Miller needs to learn that being a conservative is more than just having a shiny brochure or slick TV ad claim that you are “pro-life!” and “pro-gun!” This year, perhaps more than any other in recent memory, Republicans want a candidate who actually embraces conservative principles, not just sound bites.
I’m proud to endorse Karen Diebel in the District 24 race. She didn’t have to join a Facebook group to figure out what her positions are on immigration, and has been endorsed by Team America PAC, the anti-illegal immigration political action committee headed by former Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo, as well as other elected officials and conservative activists with a strong record on immigration issues.
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