Plain Dealer columnist dislikes 'illegal' Mexican workers

Tom Jackson
Apr 15, 2014


Kevin O'Brien, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's deputy editorial page editor, took time last week to explain why he doesn't like "illegal immigrants." He seems to be particularly unhappy if they come from Mexico. 

Here's what the top-ranking PD editor wrote: "In no way does the scant benefit of cheap labor begin to offset the damage that is being done to American law and culture." 

I'm not clear how much damage is being done, since journalists who pay attention to the actual numbers know that cities with a large immigrant population are low in crime. Here's an article by Radley Balko on "The El Paso Miracle," a city in Texas with a remarkably low crime rate and a large Hispanic population. (Balko's article dates from 2009, but the latest numbers are here.)

O'Brien's column contrasts Mexican immigrants with the supposedly superior immigrants of yore. Of yesterday's high-quality immigrants, O'Brien writes:

"They didn’t break the law to come, in hopes of being hired by an employer willing to break the law, under the nose of a government that declines to enforce the law. They came to learn and assimilate into the culture, not to change the culture so it resembled what they had left behind."

I'm all for respect for the rule of law. It's a legitimate issue, particularly at a time when the Obama administration tends to show little deference for the U.S. Constitution, or for laws as they actually are written. (The U.S. Court of Appeals is scheduled to rule, in Halbig v. Sibelius, on whether federal bureaucrats can simply rewrite the law if they don't like what Congress actually passed.) 

But I'm not ready to buy into the idea that a willingness to disobey the law is something peculiar to Mexicans.

When I came to Ohio about 10 years ago, I was determined to pay the state's use tax. I carefully saved my Amazon receipts so I could tell our tax preparer what we owed. (I'm sure I don't need to explain this to all of my law-abiding readers, but the "use tax" is what you are supposed to pay for online orders, if you haven't already paid a sales tax.)

The tax preparer expressed astonishment and told us he had never dealt with a taxpayer who wanted to pay the use tax. When he filled out the tax forms for us, I discovered that he had "forgotten" to enter the use tax information on the state return. 

Here's a simpler example. Does anyone reading this blog post drive a car? Try driving the speed limit on any highway, and see how many people drive past you. They can't all be Mexicans.

Has anyone you know ever had a car damaged by a motorist who didn't bother to carry liability insurance? Every state has a financial responsibility law, but millions of Americans drive around illegally without insurance.  

I'll add that it's pretty well known that many of the Mexican workers O'Brien dislikes are known for working hard in jobs that Americans don't want to take, such as cleaning toilets and picking crops. 

I happen to think there's a kind of dignity that attaches to hard work. 



Wow, what a great excuse for breaking the law: OTHER people do it!

That being said, it's entirely possible that the writer of that column doesn't hate Mexicans at all, but is rather focused on the fact that MOST illegal immigrants are Mexican; MOST illegal immigrants sneak across the southern border (the one with Mexico); and the loudest protests demanding recognition DESPITE the law-breaking come from -- get ready for it! -- illegal immigrants from MEXICO!

I don't like or dislike Mexican immigrants any more than I like or dislike immigrants from Canada, India, China, or name-another-country-here. I DO, however, INTENSELY dislike those who come here for a "better life" but who then demand Americans kowtow to THEIR traditions (Sharia law, anybody? Labels in an English-speaking country printed in other languages. "Press 1 for English.") I resent the HECK out of illegal immigrants from ANYwhere who come here "for a job," but who receive plenty of taxpayer assistance instead.

If you want to come here, good for you. Do it legally, and you're welcome (just as I might be welcome in YOUR home if invited, but much less so if I break a window at 2:00 a.m.). Assimilate -- learn to speak English, and don't insist everybody already here engage in the customs of your birthplace (just as, if I'm welcomed into YOUR home, I don't get to rearrange the furniture to better suit my personal aesthetics).

The immigration debate is, at its heart, nonsensical. Whatever your views, the bottom line is that we NEED secure borders. And they aren't. If anybody is able to sneak across, then those borders aren't adequately enforced. It's bad enough that those who cross the border under dark of night (or who violate their visa conditions) think they're entitled; it's worse when our own government can't be bothered to honor one of the very few constitutional MANDATES made of it!


The border is more secure than it has ever been under this President and he has deported more illegals than any other president. Jus sayin'!

Darwin's choice

You're full of it! Care to post some facts to back up that foolish statement?

The Big Dog's back
Darwin's choice

Nice try!

Closer to the truth, and not some DHS propaganda....

The Big Dog's back

You wanted facts, I gave you facts, and you did what any right wingnut would do, you pooped on them.


No one trust the government for facts except for brainless obama worshipers. How many times do they have to lie to you before you figure it out? Oh you'll change your tune when someone other than a Dem gets into office.


Who do you trust for facts ? The only way to get to the bottom of this , is for you to go to the border and count the illegal crossings yourself . Good luck in your endeavors .


wrong i just moved back from working in south texas, its dangerous one reason i left. Before you spew BS maybe u might want to talk to some people that live there. Just sayin


Sam - just a few comments. The immigrants of yore (including my great grandparents) could come here without a sponsorship from an employer. Not so now. If my great grandparents couldn't have come here legally, having no job or skills, and they didn't have an ocean between the iron curtain and the USA, they may very well have come her illegally for the sake of their family. At some point, we made it impossible for uneducated people to come here legally. Why? So they would come here illegally and work cheap. There is never a crack-down on those who hire them. IMO, this was a thought-out plan.

My great grandparents spoke no English when they cam, and never did speak it well even after 60 plus year living here. Their kids spoke no English until they went to school.

As for pressing 1 for English, it's the company's choice to include that option because people who's primary language is Spanish are part of their market - whether you like it or not. Now if you'd like to demand that companies stop marketing to these people, well that's just un-American and anti-capitalistic.

I agree we need secure borders. But we also need a path for legal immigration, and a crack-down on those who hire illegals. But that will never happen.


There are NOT secure borders. There IS a path for legal immigration. And there OUGHT to be a crackdown on those who hire illegals, but that won't happen unless WE make it happen. You're right if you suggest that, under the guidance of politics alone, it won't ever happen!

I don't argue that companies are all but forced to engage in marketing to the Spanish-speaking market. But it does a real disservice to let those who won't learn English continue to speak in whatever native tongue it is they first learned. As far as I'm concerned, English shouldn't be a requirement to APPLY for immigration; but it should surely be a requirement to STAY! Immigrants should also have sponsors or jobs -- no welfare benefits. NONE.

When your great-grandparents came here, there were probably also Chinese slave laborers, Irish "lowlives," and Jewish "shylocks." Those things have changed, and so must our relatively open borders policies. The "balkanization" of America will be a major contributor to her downfall otherwise. Read "Civil War II" by Thomas Chittum if you want a REAL eye-opener!


Again, the companies aren't "all but forced" to do anything. This is their choice because they want the business. It is their choice to market to these people. I doubt they see it as a burden, but rather an business opportunity.

You can't seriously be suggesting we test people's English skills and send them home if they fail to learn English to your liking. How many of us have great grandparents who barely spoke English?

One thing we agree on - no benefits for illegals.

JMOP's picture

Well said Sam! I agree with what you're saying. On the other hand, I feel conflicted on this issue.

Reading about the drug wars in Mexico it would be a very scary place to live. From what I've been reading they pretty much run the towns.

Being a mother, and if I lived in constant fear for the safety of my children, I could see myself fleeing to America too.

Dr. Information

Saying that most illegals are from Mexico is now wrong??? Estimates are 55-60% of illegals are from Mexico, so the writer is not wrong at all.

Bottom Line

The register is a joke. Just like deertracker.

From the Grave

Our stupidity as a nation is starting to catch up to us. It currently is only exceeded by our laziness and apathy.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

You'll appreciate this, Grave:

Stop It



Strange. 1rst hand accounts of "illegals" in Celereyville (near Willard)years ago. Business love cheap labour. Pretty strange how some people *itch about illegals yet who among us have red skin? Sure have heard stories about Italians, Slavs, Germans, etc, coming here as stowaways. They too wanted a better life in America. They too were illegals.