By Contributor on October 05, 2011

By Eric K. Ward

The reckless hunt for undocumented immigrants is placing all of us in the economic crossfire.

Recently, U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn ruled that portions of HB 56, a controversial Alabama immigration bill signed into law last June, could now be implemented. As a result, already financially strapped local police and school administrators will be forced to shift precious resources to assume an enforcement role that blurs the historic line between local and federal authority.

For local communities, these unfunded mandates are no longer simply a way to express frustration with a broken immigration system. Rather, they have become an economic problem that cuts across class, race, and ethnicity. Under the misguided notion of “controlling undocumented immigration,” white men are experiencing the negative economic impact of these laws right along with black and Latino Americans.

Alabama could lose almost 18,000 jobs and approximately $2.6 billion as a result of the new immigration law, according to the economic analysis firm the Perryman Group. The Immigration Policy Center, a national think tank, reminds us that along with white and black working families, “Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Alabama’s economy.” As the state clamps down on immigration, these entrepreneurs and consumers may take their money and jobs elsewhere. And laborers are fleeing already. Tomato farmers in Alabama are complaining that they can’t find enough pickers and that their crops are dying on the vine. Like the restrictive Arizona law that preceded it, the Alabama law serves as a dangerous decoy that allows politicians to avoid passing bills that provide real security and reinforce the rule of law in immigration policy in the United States. It also undermines the economies of our states and local communities. Some politicians argue that controlling immigrants without papers is so critical that it trumps everything else. But in times like these, state immigration laws should strengthen our communities. They shouldn’t be about sacrificing our local economies because federal politicians can’t do their jobs. They should be about putting people back to work so they can put bread on the table. It’s time politicians do the job that citizens elected them to do: provide a climate that attracts income to our communities rather than chasing it away. In the midst of economic adversity, the types of immigration laws recently passed by politicians are simply irresponsible.

Eric K. Ward is a longtime civil rights activist and founder of Which Way Forward: African Americans, Immigration, Race. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

Section: 

Topics: 

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

Capitalism is the enemy, and the ideology of growth and dominion over the Earth.

 

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham recently joined many of his Republican colleagues, declaring that...

John Kerry used two weak arguments to justify President Obama’s war-making.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter

Get Breaking News and Alerts!