Thursday, August 31, 2017

How parades, poitics and beer shaped our Labor Day holiday -- Aug. 31, 2017 column


At the first Labor Day parade on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, about 10,000 working men carrying banners marched alongside musical bands through the streets of New York City.

The workers were orderly and cheerful, “having the recreations of a beer garden in prospect,” The New York Times reported. Among their long-term dreams that day was something we take for granted: an eight-hour work day.

The size of the crowd was disappointing – union leaders had predicted 20,000 or more would show up – but Labor Day caught on. Unions in other cities sponsored Labor Day parades and speeches to air their grievances. The first state to declare an official Labor Day holiday was Oregon in 1887. Other states followed.

Were it not for President Grover Cleveland, though, many of us still might be toiling the first Monday in September.

Cleveland, you recall, was our 22nd and 24th president, the only one elected to two non-consecutive terms, in 1884 and 1892. The first Democratic president since the Civil War, he was the first to have a White House wedding. His bride was the beautiful Frances Folsom, 21 years old, 27 years his junior.

Politically and socially conservative, he opposed women’s suffrage on the grounds that God created men and women to have different places in the world and women’s didn’t include voting. But I digress.

He was also no fan of the turbulent labor movement, so it’s ironic that we have him to thank for the federal Labor Day holiday.

In 1894, the Pullman Palace Car strike paralyzed the nation. Workers who made the luxury sleeper cars walked out after they suffered a severe pay cut but no reduction in their rent on company-owned homes in the company town of Pullman, Illinois, outside Chicago.

The workers appealed to the American Railway Union led by Eugene V. Debs, who asked his members not to handle Pullman cars, which were in passenger trains all over the country.

The strike spread to 27 states and 150,000 workers. Strikers derailed and burned rail cars, hobbling rail service. When the U.S. mail was stopped, Cleveland stepped in.

Over the objection of the Illinois governor who wanted no federal troops, Cleveland ordered 12,000 armed federal troops to Pullman to break up the strike. In the riots and chaos that ensued, it’s not clear how many people were killed. Estimates range from about a dozen to more than 30.

Cleveland was running for re-election in 1896 and wanted to make amends with  union members and other angry voters. A bill to create a federal Labor Day holiday had languished in Congress for years. He rushed it through Congress in six days. It passed without a single objection.

“So long as the laboring man can feel that he holds an honorable as well as a useful place in the body politic, so long will he be a loyal and faithful citizen,” said the House Committee on Labor’s report on the bill.

Critics saw the new holiday as nothing more than a sop for unions, but it was popular.  
“Labor unions in cities such as Boston, Nashville and St. Louis celebrated with parades and picnics. Large turnouts in Chicago (30,000) and Baltimore (10,000) underscored the holiday’s popularity,” according to a House history.

But it didn’t help Cleveland. He lost his re-election bid.

Much has changed over the years. Unions have been in decline for decades. Only about 11 percent of American workers belonged to labor unions last year, down from 20 percent in 1983.

In Virginia, about 4 percent of workers were union members last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Conservatives aim to curb union power further. Republicans in the House Education and Workforce Committee unanimously approved three bills June 29 they said would bring fairness to the workplace. Democrats said the bills would make it more difficult for unions to organize workers.

For us, Labor Day weekend is less to honor the working man and woman than to celebrate at the unofficial end of summer, although, we too may have “the recreations of a beer garden in prospect.”

Happy Labor Day.

©2017 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Boycotts rarely work -- but we love 'em anyway -- Aug. 24, 2017 column


When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem last year, some conservatives boycotted the National Football League.

Angry at what they saw as unpatriotic behavior, veterans and others rallied around the hashtag #BoycottNFL. Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, tweeted: “Here’s a peaceful protest: never buy another shoe, shirt, or jersey of rich spoiled athletes who dishonor our flag.”

Now the tables have turned.

The Atlanta chapter of the NAACP recently asked fans to boycott the NFL and a group of black pastors in Alabama released a video calling for a blackout of NFL games until a team signs Kaepernick.  

Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem to protest police brutality against blacks. Other athletes joined in, and the protests have continued in the pre-season, with white players taking part. A free agent, Kaepernick hasn’t been signed for the season that begins Sept. 7.

A huge crowd of Kaepernick supporters protested outside NFL offices in New York Wednesday, contending owners have blackballed him for his activism, which the league denies.

This is the age of voting with our wallets.

Fans of Donald Trump boycotted Budweiser over its inspirational Super Bowl ad praising immigrants. Trump’s foes boycotted L. L. Bean after the granddaughter of the company’s founder contributed to his campaign and Trump urged people to “Buy L.L. Bean.”  

People similarly shopped or stayed away from Macy’s and Nordstrom after the stores dumped some Trump merchandise. Social media and sites like, which lists stores that carry Trump merchandise, give boycotts more exposure.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many boycotts announced in a short period of time,” says Brayden King, professor of management and organizations at Northwestern University.   

Boycotts -- more than marching in the streets or firing off an angry screed on social media -- make us feel powerful. There’s something immensely satisfying about just saying no and walking away.

Only one problem: Boycotts typically don’t accomplish much.

Not all are failures. The Montgomery (Ala.) bus boycott started in December 1955 and lasted 13 months. It ended when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation on public buses unconstitutional.

Viewership of NFL games on TV networks dipped last year, but the national anthem protest was only one reason, a J.D. Power survey of fans found. Off-field domestic violence and the presidential campaign were also factors.

Experts say boycotts fail because there are too many of them, our attention span is short and we simply don’t like to be told what not to do or buy. A boycott perversely can generate more sales for the item being boycotted.

Despite Uber’s many PR catastrophes and boycotts, its gross bookings and number of trips taken have risen, according to news reports.

Rather than judge a boycott’s impact on sales, it may be better to judge its media attention, King said.

Several Kennedy Center Honors award winners announced they’d boycott the pre-ceremony reception at the White House or the event itself. They include hit singer Gloria Estefan, TV producer Norman Lear and dancer Carmen de Lavallade.

The president and first lady announced they’ll stay away “to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

At least 20 charities reportedly have dropped plans to hold galas at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s resort in Florida. Among the big names that have canceled: American Red Cross, America Cancer Society, Cleveland Clinic and the Salvation Army.

Charities hosting large galas can pay Trump's club between $125,000 and $275,000 for a single night's revelry. Even lunchtime events can cost charities between $25,000 and $85,000,” The Washington Post reported.

Why charitable organizations choose such pricey locales for their fund-raising events, even if they do raise big bucks, is a question for another day. But the cancellations do send a message of disapproval to others inclined to book Mar-a-Largo.

“If you have a conscience, you’re really condoning bad behavior by continuing to be there,” Laurel Baker, executive director of the Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce, told the Palm Beach Post.

The boycott affects a prized Trump property, and that’s a sure way to grab the businessman’s attention. 

But will it change the president’s policies? That will be the true measure of the boycott’s success.

 © 2017 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

It's time for monuments to go -- Aug. 17, 2017 column


When Baltimore removed four Confederate-era statues between midnight and dawn Wednesday, a former president of the Maryland United Daughters of the Confederacy grumbled, “Rats run at night.”

But Carolyn Billups conceded she was glad an angry mob hadn’t torn down the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument the Maryland Daughters erected in 1903, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Earlier, a Confederate statue in Durham, N.C., was lassoed, pulled down, kicked and spat upon.

In the wake of the deadly violence in Charlottesville last weekend, Richmond is rethinking whether to remove the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue. Other Southern cities are taking similar actions and renaming Confederate schools and highways.

The rally in Charlottesville was ostensibly to protest removing the statue of Robert E. Lee in a city park but actually was a way for hate mongers to hurt others, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said, and for them to gain worldwide attention and recruits.

Heather Heyer, 32, lost her life when a Nazi sympathizer allegedly drove his car into a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters.

President Donald Trump alienated almost everyone but David Duke, former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, when he blamed “both sides” – white nationalists and counter-protesters -- for the violence and criticized efforts to remove Confederate monuments. Some “very fine” people were at the white supremacist rally, he said.

Trump Thursday denied he had said there was a moral equivalence between white nationalist protesters and counter-protesters. He also tweeted he’s “sad to see the history and culture of our great country ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.” 

Tweet by tweet, Trump is building a wall – not on the border but between himself and most Americans.

A president should inspire and lead, but Trump has made himself almost irrelevant on moral questions of the day. The two living former Republican presidents were so alarmed by Trump’s comments they felt obliged to remind Americans of our shared values.

“America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms,” Presidents George W. and George H.W. Bush said in their joint statement Wednesday.

“As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: We are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights,” the Bushes said.

Groups like the UDC and Sons of Confederate Veterans have relied for years on the argument that Confederate monuments represent their heritage, not hate, but they have not spoken out forcefully enough against those who have appropriated their heroes and symbols.

The bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia wrote in a letter to parishioners this week:

“Many Americans lovingly cling to their heritage, which provides them with pride and identity. Some suggest that the white people who gathered to protest in Charlottesville were there to proclaim and protect Southern heritage. However, Nazi and fascist flags, symbols, salutes, slogans and uniforms are not and never have been part of the heritage and history of the American South.”

What Trump did not say, corporate leaders did.  

“Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville. I believe the president should have been – and still needs to be – unambiguous about that point,” Denise Morrison, president and chief executive of Campbell’s Soup, said in her statement resigning from Trump’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative.

Republicans have been reluctant to confront Trump by name, but House Speaker Paul Ryan said there can be “no moral ambiguity” when it comes to the “repulsive” ideology of white supremacy.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida fired off a series of tweets that began: “The organizers of events which inspired & led to Charlottesville terrorist attack are 100% to blame for a number of reasons.”

What’s next? Removing the Confederate monuments is a first step, but it will take more to heal the nation. It will take all of us.

“You need to find in your heart that spark of accountability,” Susan Bro, Heyer’s mom, said at her daughter’s memorial service. “`What is there that I can do to make the world a better place? What injustice do I see?’”


Friday, August 11, 2017

A new gold rush -- on STATELINE Aug. 11, 2017

Economic Anxiety, Distrust of Government Fuel Gold Rush

  • August 11, 2017
  • By Marsha Mercer
Gold and silver coins
Thirty-one states have eliminated part or all state sales taxes on transactions involving silver and gold coins, giving them the same tax status as transactions in dollars.
© The Associated Press
By the end of the year, Texas plans to open the nation’s first state-supervised gold and silver depository, allowing ordinary Texans, as well as businesses, banks and others, to store their precious metals, and use the holdings in their account to make electronic payments.
“The idea of a Texas Ranger on horseback guarding the gold conjures up the sense that whatever happens, Texas will look out for your treasure,” said Chris Bryan, spokesman for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
The whole scene may sound like something from an earlier era. But it’s part of a growing, modern movement across the United States, brought on by economic anxiety and distrust of the Federal Reserve, to make gold and silver legal tender.
Since 2003, lawmakers in 27 states have considered bills to recognize gold or silver coins issued by the federal government as legal tender or to authorize a precious metals bullion depository in the state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. So far only Utah in 2011, Oklahoma in 2014 and Arizona this year have recognized gold and silver coins as legal tender, while Texas in 2015 and Tennessee last year approved measures allowing bullion depositories.
The financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 appears to have spurred interest in such “sound money” legislation, according to William L. Greene, an assistant professor of political science at South Texas College. Greene, who has studied the bills, pushed a proposal in Georgia that would have bound the state to Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution, which states that “No State shall ... make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.”
States have taken other steps that may encourage people and businesses to think of precious metals as a viable alternative to the paper dollars issued by the Federal Reserve and not just as a collector’s item. Thirty-one states have eliminated part or all state sales taxes on transactions involving silver and gold coins, giving them the same tax status as transactions in dollars, according to the Industry Council for Tangible Assets, which works with coin dealers to pass exemption laws.
Illinois, California and Washington state began lowering sales taxes on coins and precious metals in the late 1970s. The trend has picked up steam since 2010, said Kathy McFadden, executive director of the tangible assets group. Louisiana reinstated almost all of its sales tax exemption this year, while Minnesota and North Carolina approved exemptions, and Virginia expanded its exemption.
In Utah and Oklahoma, people can now transact business with like-minded gold enthusiasts. Anyone in any state can open a self-directed IRA with physical gold, but proponents believe more people will do so in states that put gold and silver coins on a par with paper money. Gold-backed trading accounts are available in Utah, and gold-backed debit cards will become commonplace, proponents say.
But even in those states, you can’t necessarily buy a steak dinner with a couple of American Eagle gold coins, because the state doesn’t compel merchants to accept gold or silver coins instead of dollars.
In Utah and Oklahoma, the tax collector doesn’t want them either. A Utah man tried to pay his taxes with silver soon after the law went into effect, but, said State Treasurer David Damschen, “That’s not how it works. If you owe $500 in taxes and you walk in here with two sheep you say are worth $500, we aren’t going to take them either.”
But over time, Greene said, as residents use both bank notes and silver and gold coins, the fact that the coins hold their value more than paper dollars “will drive out ‘bad’ money.”
In Utah, Jonathan Johnson, the chairman of and a 2016 Republican gubernatorial candidate, in 2015 said his company had stockpiled enough small coins in gold and silver to pay employees for several months in case of bank failures or currency problems.
Alabama, Idaho, Kentucky and Tennessee were among the states that considered tax exemption bills this year. A bill in Utah proposed requiring the state to hold physical gold reserves in a state repository, and one in New Hampshire would have mandated that state legislators receive their annual $100 payment in silver dollar coins. The state treasury noted that while the face value of a silver dollar was $1, the spot value of the coins varies and was $16.47 in January.

A Fringe Issue

Gold as legal tender has long been regarded as a fringe issue, championed by former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. But dedicated lobbyists, Tea Party activists and businesspeople have persevered.
Coin dealers in Ohio worked for nine years to get a sales tax exemption, Coin Worldreported. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, signed the bill last year after vetoing a similar bill three years earlier.
In 2013 Kasich said, “There is no reason to provide preferential treatment to one class of items and not others that could possibly increase in value, such as art, sports cards, or antiques. Therefore, this veto is in the public interest.”
A spokesman for Kasich said the bill he signed was more narrowly drawn and had widespread support in the Legislature.
The measure is expected to cost Ohio from $4.3 million to $5.7 million in lost sales tax revenue this year.
In Indiana last year, then-Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, also signed a bill eliminating sales taxes for silver and gold coins and bullion. That measure was estimated to cost the state about $1.5 million in revenue a year, although the estimate could be low, budget analysts said.
Some states were unprepared to assess how much the measures will cost.
Oklahoma previously lumped together gold jewelry and coins in reporting sales tax revenue and couldn’t separate the two to estimate the cost of the 2014 law that exempted gold and silver bars and coins from sales tax, said Tony Mastin, executive director of the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Oklahoma plans a review of all the tax exemptions next year, but Mastin does not expect the revenue lost because of the gold and silver tax break to be consequential.
“There are not a lot of sellers of gold coins and bars in the state,” he said.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, vetoed two gold-related bills and his predecessor, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, vetoed one before Ducey signed a scaled down version in May. Arizona’s law eliminates state capital gains taxes on gold and silver coins.
“Arizona law now recognizes that, in the state, U.S. Mint coins are legal tender that can be exchanged for Federal Reserve notes,” said state Rep. Mark Finchem, the Republican who sponsored the bill.
“If a housekeeper chooses to receive silver instead of Federal Reserve notes, that’s her choice,” Finchem said. “The note is disconnected from anything of real value.”

‘A Giveaway’

But Arizona state Sen. Steve Farley, a Democrat who’s running for governor, called the tax break a giveaway to coin collectors. “It disadvantages all other forms of investment — and only coin collectors benefit.”
Republicans have long wished for a return to the gold standard, which fixed the price of the dollar to a specific amount of gold. President Richard Nixon ended the final vestiges of the gold standard in 1971. President Ronald Reagan had a commission to study the issue but decided against a return. He signed legislation authorizing the mint to produce gold and silver coins starting in 1986.
The Republican Party’s 2012 and 2016 platforms called for a commission to investigate returning to the gold standard. Before he became president, Donald Trump told GQ that returning to the gold standard would be very hard to do, “But, boy, would it be wonderful.”
Gold enthusiasts argue that gold holds its value when the dollar is buffeted and the economy tanks, although its price can and has dropped. The mint’s coins vary in price weekly.
“Gold is the most stable thing in the economic world right now,” said Keith Weiner, president of a precious metals firm and of the Gold Standard Institute, which promotes the use of gold as currency. “Some way, somehow, someday we will have a gold standard.”

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Barking dog? There's an audiobook for that -- Aug. 10, 2017 column


With all the saber-rattling between the United States and North Korea, I almost couldn’t hear the dogs next door barking. Almost.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Americans should sleep well at night, untroubled by the escalating rhetoric over nukes, but I doubt he’s ever tried to relax to the noise of yapping dogs.  

My neighbor Paul has two sweet dogs, three if you count the long-term lodger, but they bark a lot, especially when he’s out.

Naturally, I was more than a little interested in the news this week from Amazon.  
Amazon-owned Audible – a digital book-listening service whose slogan is “You don’t just listen to an Audible book, you feel it” -- launched an audiobooks for dogs service, Audible for Dogs. It more accurately could be called Guilt Begone.

“I’m always looking for ways where people don’t feel guilty, worried or stressed when they leave their dogs alone,” dog behaviorist Cesar Millan told USA Today. Millan, known as the “Dog Whisperer,” “curated” a list of human audiobooks he says will help calm a pup who’s left home alone.

Among the titles: Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” and Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.” They’re not all classics, though. The bestseller “Born a Crime: Stories of a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah is also on the list.

All this may seem preposterous to cat owners, but separation anxiety is no laughing matter for dog owners. Stressed pups may bark excessively, howl, tear up furniture, relieve themselves in the house and become depressed.

Many dog owners just switch on the radio when they leave home and hope for the best, but Audible cites an academic study from the United Kingdom that found dogs actually prefer an audio book to music. Really?

The 2015 paper from Hartbury College in the west of England titled, “The effects of audiobooks on the behaviour of dogs at rehoming kennels,” studied the reactions of 31 dogs at a pet shelter to an audiobook, classical, pop and “psychoacoustically designed dog music” and a control condition with no special auditory sounds.

Researchers played two hours of auditory stimulation at normal conversational volume from 10 a.m. to noon one day with two days between treatments to avoid overstimulation. Dogs were also exposed to normal kennel sounds of dogs barking and staff talking.

The audiobook was C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” book two of the children’s classic fantasy “Chronicles of Narnia.” The British researchers deemed it “popular amongst humans and appropriate for all ages, therefore is suitable for a range of environments.”

Video cameras recorded the dogs’ behavior in the various settings every five minutes.

The result: “Audiobooks resulted in dogs spending more of their time resting or sleeping than any of the other auditory conditions. Dogs also spent less time sitting or standing when exposed to audiobooks compared to all other conditions,” the report said.

What about barking? There was no difference between dogs in the control situation – with no special auditory stimulation at all – and those listening to audiobooks.  

But among auditory stimulants, the audiobook was the most effective, even better than classical music, in reducing barking. This was surprising because earlier tests showed classical music effective in calming a variety of creatures, including chickens, dogs in kennels, elephants and gorillas.

At his dog behavior center in Los Angeles, Millan also tested audiobooks on 100 volunteer dogs for 30 days and wrote “Cesar Millan’s Guide to Audiobooks for Dogs.” 

Gender, energy and consistency are important in choosing audiobooks for dogs, he says. For example, audiobooks seem more effective if the reader is the same gender as the primary owner. 

Leslie, a dog owner who participated in Millan’s study with her 9-year-old dog Buddy, said when she had to leave Buddy alone before, she felt “guilty with a capital G.”

But with an audiobook playing, “I felt like I was leaving him with a friend, so it gave me a great feeling of comfort,” she said in a video on the Audible site.

I might mention dog audiobooks to Paul, who apologizes occasionally for the barking disturbance. But, frankly, it sounds as if we’d all be better off if I found audiobooks for me to listen to when the dogs bark.

©2017 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

`Huddled masses' need not apply? -- Aug. 3, 2017 column


In the White House briefing room, a senior White House aide lectured on the Statue of Liberty.

The statue is a “symbol of American liberty lighting the world,” senior policy adviser Stephen Miller said Wednesday. Welcoming immigrants was only an afterthought, he suggested.

“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, inscribed on the base, with its line about “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” was added later, he said.

Miller was right about the timing, but why make that historical footnote now? Because President Donald Trump intends to set the United States on a new path regarding immigration. He wants to halve legal immigration over a decade.

“Very, very important, Trump said of the proposal. “Biggest change in 50 years.”

Trump sees his America First ideology in conflict with America’s traditional role as beacon to the world’s persecuted and downtrodden.

The RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) Act would slash the number of green cards to about 500,000 annually and change the face of immigration. Green card holders are lawful permanent residents who can live in the country permanently and serve in the military.

The current system prizes family unification; people who are kin to citizens get top priority. The new system would prioritize green cards for English speakers, people who can support themselves financially and have job skills.

Miller emphasized most voters support such changes. To be sure, Trump’s pledges to curb illegal immigration were central to his election. But this bill goes a step farther. 

Now, legal immigration is also on the chopping block, as it has been at various points in history.

But legal immigration should not be an us-versus-them issue in the 21st century. We rightly celebrate hard-working legal immigrants who follow the rules. We need immigrants to keep our economy humming.  

Democrats on Capitol Hill declared the bill a nonstarter. Two Republican senators – Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona – drenched the proposal in cold water.

Graham said it would hurt his state’s agriculture, tourism and service industries. McCain told reporters he “wasn’t interested.” Why? “Because I’m not interested.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce argued the bill would hurt the economy.

“Dramatically reducing overall immigration levels won’t raise the standard of living for Americans,” said Randy Johnson, a senior vice president at the chamber.

“In fact it will likely accomplish the opposite, making it harder for businesses, communities, and our overall economy to grow, prosper and create jobs for American workers,” Johnson said.

The bill proposed by two Southern Republicans, Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, has undeniable political appeal in Trump country. But it’s helpful to think about what the RAISE bill is not.

It is not comprehensive immigration reform. It does not address the 11 million people who entered the country illegally or guest workers or border security or deporting “bad hombres,” in Trump’s phrase.

This is not 1986, when Congress passed and President Ronald Reagan signed the bipartisan Immigration Reform and Control Act.

Trump is not Reagan, who said: “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.”

Reagan understood that society can’t prosper with “a class of individuals who must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society.”

The 1986 law -- called Simpson-Mazzoli for sponsors Sen. Alan Simpson, Republican of Wyoming, and Rep. Romano Mazzoli, Democrat of Kentucky – promised a path to legalization – amnesty -- for millions of undocumented immigrants in return for 
cracking down on illegal immigration.

The law is now widely viewed as a failure. Nearly 3 million illegal immigrants did come out of the shadows, but the border remained porous. To pass the bill, Congress jettisoned key enforcement provisions, including penalizing employers who hired workers here illegally. 

Thirty-one years later, a new president wants to remake immigration. Surely we can do better this time around – without halving legal immigration. Curb illegal immigration, yes, while affirming America’s role as a beacon to the world, while helping our citizens prosper. Our future demands no less.

© 2017 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.