|The Honorable Governor of the State of Rhode Island was once apprehended for being in Canada illegally to shoe horses. He says that gives him a unique perspective on the issue of illegal immigration and how apprehended aliens should be treated.|
You have to admit that he's honest. Or was it perhaps a touch of nostalgia for his past life?
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee admitted today in an interview with WPRO "Plain Speaking" blogger and radio personality Bob Plain that he worked illegally in Canada as a racetrack horseshoer...and that his day of destiny came when one of the other shoers at a track turned him in to immigration authorities.
As discussion of how to deal with illegal aliens rises to the top of political issues in the United States, no one expected any state would have a governor with firsthand experience with the issue.
Chafee said he was fined $50 for working in Canada without proper working papers. The experience, he said, is one of the reasons he would like to see a law passed that would allow immigrants in this country to illegally work towards becoming legal without leaving, as he did when he was an undocumented worker in Canada.
Montana State University, Chafee gravitated to the harness tracks of western Canada. He prepared for horseshoeing school by completing his undergraduate college degree at Brown University.
In case you're wondering, there are quite a few farriers around the country with degrees from Ivy League colleges. Chafee isn't the only one. Plenty of Ivy League graduates headed to Canada in the 1960s but they went to escape the draft, not to shoe horses. Chafee's illegal migration would have taken place during the 1970s.
An interesting footnote to Chafee's story is that his father was a United States Senator when his son was picked up by authorities for working illegally in Canada. Years later, the horseshoer filled his father's Senate seat until he failed re-election on his last attempt. If he was running for that office today, would someone make an issue of his lack of respect for the law?
I respect Chafee for his honesty. It's a long way from his arrest as an Ivy League horseshoer in Canada to the news of an illegal Mexican stableworker in Vermont who was arrested two weeks ago when he was a passenger in a car stopped for speeding. His arrest sparked a protest in the normally peaceful Green Mountain State, with a trio of protesters arrested. Vermont has previously espoused a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy toward immigration status. Last year, the state attorney general was quoted as saying his state was "no Arizona". The mandatory federal "Secure Communities" program changes that.
Chafee is the latest in a series of governors to speak out on immigration enforcement politics.
When he was a US Senator, Chafee proudly displayed his IUJH horseshoer's license in his office in Washington, DC. He split from his longtime association with the Republican party while still a Senator; he left the Senate in 2006. Chafee currently is an Independent--an appropriate stance for a farrier. And he seems to be working in this country legally.
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