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Mark Cromer: Ghosts, Goblins and Border Jumpers

A Halloween costume isn’t what’s scary about illegal immigration

Among America’s many fine traditions is its unique ability to turn just about any issue, event or debate into a commercial opportunity for personal profit. You can bet if there had been an American present at the public beheadings during the French Revolution, he would have been the guy selling miniature guillotines and shouting, “Get your Marie Antoinette-head beer stein right here! They’re going fast!”

Mark Cromer
Mark Cromer

So it should have surprised no one that some enterprising firm decided to riff on the debate over illegal immigration and make a few bucks by offering an “Illegal Alien” costume for those in the mood this Halloween. Featuring a space alien mask — and the orange jumpsuit that is now synonymous for a detainee — as well as a fake Green Card, this costume is actually pretty anemic by American standards.

Remember the visages of O.J. Simpson, Scott Peterson, the Manson Family and assorted other killers — not to mention Satan — appear amid the revelry every Oct. 31. A hybrid of E.T. and an ICE detainee registers pretty low on the offense meter.

But it shows just how pervasive the feigned shock and manufactured outrage is among Latino ethnocentric groups and open-border advocates, as they promptly denounced the costumes as spreading xenophobia.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles leaped into action last week, demanding that Target, Walgreens and Amazon.com stop selling that costume as well as another Halloween mask they found offensive (an alien head with a thin mustache and a baseball cap). Not surprisingly, some of the retailers caved immediately, with Target meekly announcing it was all a mistake and it didn’t mean to offend anyone.

If the Los Angeles coalition sticks to the playbook usually employed by such groups, it will follow up the trick by demanding a juicy treat: that Target and other retailers of the costume hire the coalition as “consultants” on matters of “community outreach” and “cultural sensitivity.” That’s usually how these shakedowns of business go: pay us and we won’t call you a racist.

CNN quoted immigrant Guillermo Iglesias — who told the cable network that both of his parents are illegal immigrants — as saying that the costume would hurt the feelings of his many illegal immigrant friends. I suspect it would take a lot more than a cheap Halloween costume to hurt people who fled the pervasive corruption, horrific violence and entrenched poverty of Latin America and who risked death for just the chance to sneak into the United States.

But if it will make the immigrant activists feel any better, I have a couple of suggestions for costumes that might level the playing field and assuage their delicate sensibilities.

First, let’s complement the illegal alien costume with one of a corpulent, bellicose white guy in a suit, his pockets filled with fake cash, towed around in a wagon (kinda like a rickshaw) by the illegal aliens. For effect, the fat cat can shout “Rapido!” every now and again. No, this isn’t a costume depicting a U.S. senator — although the mistake is understandable — so it will come with a sign reading “U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

For a truly frightening touch, people in costumes depicting out-of-work American citizens can follow the illegal aliens and the greedy Boss Hoggs that hire them to our collective doorstep. The citizens should look broke, stressed, scared and mad as hell by the unshakable sense they’ve been betrayed.

And that’s one outfit that we better get used to seeing long after Halloween is over.

— Mark Cromer is a senior writing fellow at Californians for Population Stabilization.

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