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Who wins if my best employee gets deported?

My business loses, and so does the nation


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I have an employee (let’s call him Sven) who came to this country illegally when he was 7. Sven is the best worker I’ve ever had. If it was the trade deadline tomorrow, you’d have to offer up Babe Ruth, Gordie Howe and Joe Namath for a chance to get Sven away from my team. And Secretariat, too. That’s how much Sven means to me and to my company.

Sven has a work permit thanks to DACA; he is legally allowed to work here. He pays taxes every year (I help him to file) and besides some traffic infractions, he has never been in trouble. I know Sven’s parents, and I know his sister—they are hard-working and conscientious people that I’m proud to call my friends. Sven is bilingual, he finished high school, he pays child support for his two daughters (both American citizens,) and he gets along with his ex-wife (also an American citizen.)

Sven makes my company and my product better and our customers love him, but lately I’m worried that he could be rounded up in an ICE “surge” and be sent back to his country of origin – a place he hasn’t been since he was still in baby teeth. ICE can legally deport him, and under new policies, will deport him given the chance.

I wonder what purpose that would serve. Who would benefit, and who would be punished?

 A 7-year-old can’t break the law, so we can’t really hold him liable for that, can we? (I mean morally, of course.) Deportation would punish him nonetheless. But he wouldn’t be punished as much as his daughters would be, and they are wholly innocent American citizens. Those two little girls would get much less in child support than they do now, for instance, and be at risk of welfare dependency.

That means the American taxpayer would suffer, too. Sven’s ex-wife would suffer: her life becoming harder without a co-parent around. Did I mention that she’s an American, just like me? And I, too, would suffer, as my prize employee would be missing. I’m not sure I could ever replace him, so I probably wouldn’t try—I’d just downsize and let it be. And of course, our American tax base would diminish by whatever Sven pays into it each year.

And who will benefit?

That’s the real question I have to ask. Will someone who is “more American” get a job because of it? Maybe. But I can’t think of anyone who is “more American” than Sven is.  If his job was taken by a “born American” who is 8 years younger, isn’t Sven still “more American” than the new guy? Sven has been here longer.

I believe we think too much about what is “legal” and not enough about what is “right.” It would be “legal” for my business to slap a lien on your property as soon as you hesitate to pay us, but the “right” thing to do is to replace that terrible fence board. It’s “legal” to stiff a subcontractor and require them to sue us for their money. But it isn’t “right.”

Life and business aren’t a zero-sum game that requires someone else to lose in order for me to win. Doing the “legal” thing may give us a slight edge on our bottom line, but the “right” thing makes us objectively better people and objectively better businesses. “Right” should be held in higher esteem than “legal” both in business and society.

If you believe Sven deserves to be sent out of the country, and you also believe in inalienable rights endowed by your Creator, I ask you to consider if those views contradict each other. As an American (since 1658, Jamestown, Virg.), a former U.S. Marine and a business owner, I ask you to reconsider mass deportation. I believe the harm to American and to individual Americans greatly outweighs the benefit.

We should strive to be the nation that’s “right,” not the nation that’s “legal.” And I know two very little very American girls who would agree with me.

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David Sneed

David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss; The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company. As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at  David@EveryoneHasABoss.com

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