Editor, Times-Union:
I work in the trenches of law practice where a good share of my time is spent helping injured workers recover compensation benefits. A fair number of my clients are Hispanic and many are illegal. They are hard-working people who love their families, pay their bills, and go to church. The greatest risk I see with their presence in our communities is that their family values, faith, and work ethic  may rub off on us.
Many of these folks work in our local farm factories, the RV industry and various other factories in the area. A common theme I have seen over the years is that when one of these workers is injured, some employers try to avoid paying worker’s compensation benefits claiming they “just” discovered the injured worker is illegal. Oh really? Indiana law does provide that if an injured worker is unavailable for employment for reasons other than the injury, then benefits are denied. Of course, being an illegal makes one unavailable for employment. It is a clever and brutal tactic used by insurance companies to avoid having to pay out benefits. And it is morally reprehensible.
When Hispanics caught in this trap come to me I have a very simple solution. It is based on the premise that the employer knows or has a very good idea who is illegal in the work force. I therefore propose to the company and the insurer that I will be issuing subpoenas with regard to what steps the employer takes to ensure legal status. I also suggest I may seek production of records regarding the status of their entire workforce. I also propose to have a meeting with a representative from Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) at the workplace to discuss the matters.
Astonishingly, every single case is settled without having to resort to subpoenas and official meetings.
Here is the point. Let’s drop all the pretensions about our disdain for illegal aliens. Let’s admit that businesses, which employ the undocumented, are just as guilty, or more so, than those who come here to work and feed their families. Let’s acknowledge we all benefit by their presence in a variety of ways, especially big and little companies, restaurants, and a whole variety of service industries. It is long past time to provide identifications to those who have been here for a while and give them a path to citizenship. Certainly it is only fair that they go to the back of the line and meet certain standards. But rounding them up or scaring them away is absurd.
Our kids have played soccer for many years here at Warsaw. The high school team has been phenomenal, coming in second in the state last year. The Hispanic kids are an integral part of the team and we enjoy having them over to our home all year round. At the games a number of the Hispanic parents sit off to the side in the shadows and we all know why. Perhaps someday, maybe soon, they can join the rest of us in the stands where we can join together and celebrate our kids’ successes.
E Pluribus Unum; out of many, one. That, it seems to me, is the American way.
David C. Kolbe
Warsaw, via e-mail