The nation's largest employer, Wal-Mart, was raided last Thursday by federal agents on charges that its cleaning contractors were using illegal immigrants as janitors.
And indeed the predawn raid snatched more than 250 illegal immigrants at more than 60 Wal-Mart stores, while company executives are still being probed for possible prior knowledge of the hiring.
This dramatic enforcement of US immigration laws against the world's largest retailer sends a powerful message to Congress, President Bush, and all those companies who prefer not to check the legal status of workers: If flag-waving Wal-Mart is getting away with this, do the nation's immigration laws mean anything in the vital task of stopping terrorists from sneaking into the US?
Mr. Bush needs to resume his pre-9/11 efforts with Mexico and Congress to end the massive flow of illegal aliens across the border so the United States can keep better track of who's in this country legally.
Just saying the US needs the cheap labor, or that companies can't check every worker's ID card and follow up on every contractor's promise, doesn't cut it anymore during a national security emergency.
And those honest companies who try to weed out illegal workers have every right to complain that they are at a disadvantage against companies who don't pay taxes for their illegal workers.
If giant Wal-Mart has been using illegal workers at below minimum wage as one way to drive hometown retailers and other competitors out of business, it shows just how pervasive and insidious this generally flagrant violation of immigration laws is.
At least one bill in Congress would start to solve the problem by setting up ways to legally bring Mexican workers into the US while converting current illegal aliens over to legal status without a general amnesty and without condoning their breaking of the law.
Looking the other way on this problem means not looking at its effect on the campaign against terrorism.