This week, former NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was forced to withdraw his nomination as the new Homeland Security Secretary primarily because it was discovered that he employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper and nanny. To the country and the world, she is nothing more than a nameless and faceless illegal alien, in yet another derailed nomination due to an immigration fiasco. Zoe Baird, Kimba Wood, Bernard Kerik, and others-the casualty continues...

The press jumped all over this, as was expected. However, no one saw fit to spend even a couple of column inches or a footnote on the underlying problem. The lack of humanity, the deafening silence to Emma Lazarus' immortal assurance upon which America was built, resonate hauntingly:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus, New York City, 1883

Or is the issue one of simple economics? That unforgiving Law of Supply and Demand, again? The market demands cheap labor and there is an ample supply of it outside and inside this nationís borders. U.S. employers and undocumented workers find themselves caught in this reality driven by a draconian and illogical immigration policy, and some deliberately exploit it. Slavery, legalized.

When the issue of immigration is addressed, those in positions of power and influence neglect to address the issue in a complete manner. Rarely faulted is the U.S. citizen employer who, for the motivation of cheap labor, will engage an undocumented worker since that worker would enjoy none of the protections afforded by this nationís labor laws. Undocumented workers can be forced to work for wages that are below the federal minimum wage, they have no such thing as a forty-hour work week, no overtime, no coverage in case of unemployment, and generally no medical insurance coverage. A good deal for an employer. A raw deal and a nightmare for the worker and the immigrant.

Itís easy to beat up on undocumented workers, the whipping boys of American politics. Every time a politician needs some group to blame for the failures of government, immigrants often provide an easy target. For the American-born unemployed, the immigrants have your job. For the American-born senior citizen, it is the immigrants who are burdening our healthcare system so grandma may die waiting in the Emergency Room. For the American-born driver, itís the immigrants whose driving habits drive up the cost of insurance. And for the American-born homeowner, itís the immigrants who are ruining our good neighborhoods. Itís hard at times to find one problem that is not the fault of "those evil dark-skinned people."

This untenable situation cries out for far-reaching reforms or we run the risk of creating a permanent neo-slavery class of workers. Real solutions to bring these untold millions of hard working people out from the shadows and into the mainstream economy and civil society are possible if there is the political will.

As an immigrant myself, I call upon President Bush and the U.S. Congress to keep their campaign promise to alleviate the sufferings of undocumented workers by enacting legislation to bring some common sense to the reality of Americaís insatiable demand for labor and the ability of the world to fill it legally or ďotherwise.Ē ďOtherwiseĒ is unacceptable for both immigrant and employer.
How long will we keep paying this price for Congress' hypocritical approach with respect to undocumented immigrants? The long list of valuable Americans who have been denied the opportunity to serve their country for having violated immigration's illogical and archaic laws will continue to grow.
We must accept that we are "a nation of immigrants," and we would not be the Great USA, had it not been for the hard work of millions of "illegal aliens."

But, get the reality. A national strike of undocumented workers will paralyze our country, from top to bottom, make no mistake. The time is now. If not now, when? Congress must bring our millions of worthy, fellow human beings into the fold of legality.

Albert Baldeo, Esq

Attorney at Law

City Council Candidate #28

106-11 Liberty Avenue,

Ozone Park, NY 11417



One of the most telling examples of our communityís current political impotence is on display daily on Liberty Avenue when the NYPD and the meter maids prey on any driver who stops his car for even a few seconds.

These officers and meter maids seem to be hiding in the bushes always ready to pounce on some Indo-Caribbean who stopped for a moment to let his wife off to buy some fresh produce or to pick up some medications for his children at the local pharmacies.

Why is this? Why is this neighborhood so special? Do other neighborhoods get singled out for this special treatment? Is it a general rule to treat residents like garbage? Or is this the treatment especially reserved for Richmond Hill residents?

If we, the residents, donít earn money and donít spend money, then where are they going to get taxes from? And why should our communityís businesses lose customers due to the cityís insatiable appetite for ticket fines? We can no longer stand idly by and take this kind of eye-pass. We are in effect subsidizing our own oppression.

The heart of the matter is simple. Other communities have political representation and we have none. When something happens in St. Albans, Congressman Meeks is there. When something happens on Jamaica Avenue, Councilman Comrie is there. In Howard Beach, resilient Councilman Joe Addabbo is the custodian of his constituents' rights. But when something happens in Richmond Hill, who do we have? Which Councilman, Congressman, Assemblyman, or State Senator pays any attention to us?

We have no public official that looks like us. No one who lives here. No one who experiences the same problems on a daily basis. We are a community that is like a ship with no one steering it when we encounter troubled waters, such as the basement crisis, police profiling, hate crimes, and discrimination in all its various forms. We have a vibrant and dynamic economic base, but no political clout. This must and will be changed!

This is why I am running for City Council in District 28. Help me help our community. The police play a very important role in society, and we are willing to work in partnership with them, in spite of the notorious "ticket quota" imposed upon them by the higher authorities. They must respect us as hardworking and law abiding people, not targets of oppression.

"It's just not constitutional..."


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