Immigrant-Bashing States Need Economic Shoving
Nearly all 50 states have tried to crack down on undocumented immigrants, and nearly all of their most Draconian measures have failed.
According to a new Associated Press review of the immigration measures considered by state legislatures, only a few have become law, and some actually benefited undocumented immigrants.
Some measures were more Draconian than others, but generally, according to the AP, efforts to emulate Arizona's infamous SB 1070 were met with such resistance from the business community and the pro-immigrant lobby that they never became law.
This doesn't mean that the anti-immigrant zealots behind these repressive measures are about to stop persecuting undocumented immigrants, and it certainly doesn't mean the pro-immigrant lobby can let down its guard.
On the contrary, the few states that have passed Arizona-like legislation should be boycotted and ridiculed with the same intensity with which Arizona was.
After all, let's face it: The defeat of these measures was not based on newfound compassion for undocumented immigrants or even on newfound respect for our Constitution and the jurisdiction it gives to the federal government instead of to the states.
These measures mostly were defeated by economics. The financial pressure applied on the states by the threat of lawsuits and boycotts, exemplified by Arizona's throwing money away in the courts and losing tourism dollars, is clearly the main factor behind the failure of many state anti-immigrant measures.
And as long as opportunistic politicians keep bashing immigrants, as long as taxpayers keep allowing them to waste our money on clearly unconstitutional measures designed to pander to right-wing extremists, more economic pressure will be necessary, especially in states that already have passed Draconian immigration laws.
As long as Arizona lawmakers keep trying to impose measures that have been rejected by the courts by threatening to fight all the way to the Supreme Court, as long as other states keep trying to pass laws that could lead to racial profiling against all immigrants — legal and illegal — the boycotts must keep getting stronger, the lawsuits must keep getting filed and the protests must keep getting louder.
If immigrant-bashers cannot find compassion in their hearts, we need to keep making holes in their pockets. And a good place to begin is Georgia, where lawsuits already are planned against a law that takes effect in July and comes "closest to Arizona," according to the AP report.
In Georgia, even native-born Americans would be penalized for harboring or transporting undocumented immigrants; local cops would check the immigration status of "suspects" who can't show an approved ID; and using false documents to get a job would be considered a felony.
But what happens when Georgia farmers begin to run out of fieldworkers to harvest onions and other crops that are fundamental to the state's economy? What happens when the tourism boycott begins, when more prominent Americans echo the words of Carlos Santana, who got an award at baseball's annual Civil Rights Game in Atlanta on May 15 and grabbed the opportunity to scold the most prominent immigrant-bashing states.
"The people of Arizona and the people of Atlanta, Ga., you should be ashamed of yourselves," Santana said.
And what happens when so many Latino and other immigrant ballplayers go to Arizona for the July 12 Major League Baseball All-Star Game? Will they stand with Santana and find a way to demonstrate their indignation?
If they don't, I know a few fans they are likely to lose!
The AP report also notes that Alabama and South Carolina still are considering such measures. It notes that Utah has passed — and the courts already have blocked — a law that, amazingly, allows illegal immigrants to work in that state, but the law mirrors Arizona's by giving cops the authority to question people's legal status.
All of these measures and the politicians who promote them need to be continuously monitored and denounced. Assuming that their mean-spirited intentions have begun to fizzle — because their Draconian measures have been rejected or tabled — would be a huge mistake.
But who knows? On the issue of immigration, perhaps the political pendulum finally has begun to swing in the opposite direction. Perhaps even some Republicans can stop pandering to right-wing extremists and follow the courageous example of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, who claims that his state needs more immigrants and celebrates their diversity.
An immigration bill is pending in the Michigan Legislature, and Snyder told his state's Hispanic Chamber of Commerce last week that a law like Arizona's would "encourage a divisive atmosphere."
No kidding! Of course, this is obvious to most Americans. But coming from a Republican governor, it is welcome news.
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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