Opinion

Can’t keep the oath? Don’t run for the office

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Stopped in my Ford Focus last month at a long traffic light, I switched off Miles Davis “Live at the Plugged Nickel” on my MP3 player, and switched on my FM radio to a state news update of a public hearing before a Florida legislative committee.

Committee legislators were considering a bill allowing illegal immigrants in Florida to obtain a Florida driver’s license. According to the news report, the measure could affect “hundreds of thousands of people.”

The radio report included a soundbite from a Floridian testifying before the Legislative Committee in support of the bill. His father is illegal in Florida, said the testifier. “Every day he gets behind the wheel of his car and drives he is scared to death. He knows if he gets in an accident the penalty could mean deportation.” Legislators, said the man testifying, need to “get your heads out of the sand” on this issue.

One of the bill co-sponsors, Rep. Anna Eskamani, was reported on local tv saying illegal immigrant driver’s licenses would encourage illegals to report traffic accidents. She said roads would be safer with illegal immigrant’s required to pass tests to get a driver’s license. And with illegals needing auto insurance — the added policyholders could mean lower auto insurance rates for all Florida drivers.

“It doesn’t matter your immigration status,” Florida Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez said in the tv report. “If you are on the roads, you should have access to a driver’s test and the ability to get car insurance.”

There is so much wrong with this thinking — which is not limited to Florida. It is very evident among members of the US Congress. And certainly among Maine lawmakers and special interests.

Every member of any state legislature, and also Congress, is sworn into office by taking an oath. Merriam-Webster’s definition of an oath is “a solemn usually formal calling upon God or a god to witness to the truth of what one says or to witness that one sincerely intends to do what one says.” Think of the familiar oath taken by witnesses about to give testimony in courts of law: “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”

Lying under oath, perjury, is a serious criminal offense. But more and more it seems acceptable for politicians to violate their oath of office when it comes to illegal immigration.

If Florida roads would be safer with illegal immigrants having driver’s licenses — how much safer would the roads be with no illegals? Of course, that would take a majority of the US Congress willing to uphold their oath of office and fix America’s indefensible immigration system.

In Maine, Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling was “disappointed” when Portland’s City Council failed in 2018 to approve voting for non-US citizens in municipal elections. “I believe passing this is good for our city. I think our city will be stronger when we pass this,” said Strimling.

College Park, MD allows non-citizen voting in municipal elections. According to the National Council of State Legislatures (2018) 10 states allow nonresidents to vote in municipal and/or special elections.

What about the US citizens these same lawmakers — who ran for office to protect and defend — whose votes are canceled by non-citizen voters?

How do these elected officials’ actions square with the rule of law? And with the lawmakers oath, which generally begins something like: I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State…?

If accommodating illegal immigrants is your goal, be an activist, join a special interest.

But don’t run for elective office where you must swear to uphold laws, to protect and defend citizens, when you have no intention of doing so.

Scott K. Fish has served as a communications staffer for Maine Senate and House Republican caucuses, and was communications director for Senate President Kevin Raye. He founded and edited AsMaineGoes.com and served as director of communications/public relations for Maine’s Department of Corrections until 2015. He is now using his communications skills to serve clients in the private sector.

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