When Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank got word that federal immigration agents were in his district, risking their lives to uphold the law and protect the citizenry, he immediately sprang into action: He told them to stop.Like liberal lawmakers in Colorado, Georgia, and other states where high-profile immigration raids have occurred recently, Congressman Frank was outraged that the rule of law was going to be inflicted on the innocent “undocumented workers” he represents.

“These aren’t criminals,” Frank said of the hundreds of aliens using forged federal documents (felony) to commit tax fraud (felony) and identity theft (felony) in order to evade immigration laws and remain in the US (felony, misdemeanor and violation of numerous civil statutes).

Commenting on the fact that many of the illegals were mothers who, once detained, were separated from their children, Frank complained, “People see how disruptive this [enforcement action] is. We ought to give these people legalization.”

Why people who “aren’t criminals” would need “legalization” is a profound question of great nuance, no doubt linked to what the definition of “is” is. I’m more interested in the argument that all our immigration problems stem from enforcing, rather than ignoring, the law.

If only that were true, we’d have no immigration problems now. After all, there are 12-20 million illegal immigrants here now, and virtually no enforcement (in 2004, a total of three US companies were prosecuted for hiring illegals)

But for some strange reason, many Americans suffer under the delusion that not enforcing the law is the major concern.

That’s why cities like Hazelton, Pa., passed local laws against hiring or renting property to illegal aliens. Hazelton passed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act after their community saw huge increases in violence, murder and drug crimes, many committed by illegal immigrants.

If Hazelton had chosen to ignore the crime and consequences of illegal immigration, the losers would have been legal residents and American citizens. By enforcing the law, Hazelton put the burden on the immigration criminals themselves.

Obviously, Hazelton had to be stopped.

And so Hispanic groups are in federal court trying to get the Illegal Immigration Relief Act declared unconstitutional. Deporting illegals, including drug-dealing, murderous ones, violates their civil rights, these activists claim.

“Even if illegal immigrants really are wreaking havoc on Hazleton, that doesn’t change the legal analysis” that these anti-illegal-immigrant ordinances are unconstitutional, the ACLU attorney told a federal judge this week.

In other words, illegal immigrants have the right to roam your streets, but as an American citizen, you have no right to stop them. Where in the Constitution you’ll find this “right” of foreigners to defy American law is beyond me (it’s probably hidden behind the Roe v. Wade “penumbra”). But if liberals like Barney Frank and the ACLU really cared about improving the lives of real people, they’d be demanding enforcement of our immigration laws.

Why do we still have sweatshops in the U.S. in 2007? Because illegal immigrants will work in them. Why do young men with only high school diplomas have higher unemployment rates than their fellow Americans? Because illegal immigrants take jobs in Georgia meatpacking plants and New England leather factories that these low-skill workers would otherwise do.

Why, according to a Harvard University study, are wages in industries that attract illegal workers rising more slowly than for other jobs? Why is there a direct correlation between the quality of public health care and education services and the percentage of the population made up of illegal immigrants?

The answers are obvious. There are real costs to real Americans of refusing to enforce immigration laws. There are also real costs to the nations these illegals are fleeing. If your life is so lousy that you’d rather work in an American sweatshop than in your own country, your country must really, really suck.

So why not stay there and fight for a better future? Why not work as hard to create jobs back home as you do to steal jobs here? If illegal immigrants truly are the ambitious, caring, community-minded folk their advocates insist, aren’t they needed more in the backwards ratholes of Central and South America?

I say it’s time for Americans to sacrifice for the good of the world. We’ll keep our xenophobic, nationalistic, Neanderthal ways, and the rest of the world can enjoy the immigration lawlessness and open borders liberals support.

I’m sure Congressman Frank will be happy to lead the way.