RICO Savvy

Ever since a New Hampshire judge struck down local police chiefs’ attempts to use the state’s criminal trespass statutes on illegal aliens, I’ve been wondering about other tactics local officials can use to pick up the slack left by the do-nothing federal government. And thanks to a most unlikely source — National Public Radio — I think I’ve found one.

In Idaho, Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez has a burr under his saddle over illegal immigration. He’s decided to go after the demand side of the economic equation — the companies that hire them. And he’s been using the RICO — Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations — statute, originally intended to go after organized crime, to drive down the profits in hiring illegal aliens.

Vasquez is being labelled a traitor to his heritage — he’s the grandson of legal Mexican immigrants, born in Texas. But he says he’s an American first. A Korean War veteran who lost part of one leg and the use of one hand, he speaks Spanish fluently — but refuses to conduct interviews in Spanish. His attitude seems to be that when he’s acting as an American elected official, he will speak only in English.

It’s not the first time Vasquez has taken on the illegal immigration issue. Last year he sent a bill to the Mexican government for $2 million dollars for services rendered to illegal Mexican immigrants. And he also unsuccessfully petitioned Idaho’s governor to declare his county a disaster area, based on an “imminent invasion” from Mexico.

Vasquez has a lot — a LOT — of local support. Many of Idaho’s construction companies have been hurt, badly, by having to compete with rivals who use cheap illegal labor. Those that play by the rules simply can’t work as cheaply.

Vasquez recently announced he’s running for Idaho’s single seat in Congress, and some say he’s using this to garner publicity and support.

Me, I don’t care. He’s saying and doing the right thing, and that is good enough for me.

(More coverage here)

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