May 16, 2012

POCKETBOOK VS. PURITY:

An immigration crackdown killed -- by conservatives (Juliette Kayyem, 5/15/12, Philadelphia Inquirer)

The state Senate faced strong opposition to its anti-illegal-immigrant bill from the state chamber of commerce, the farm lobby, and local governments.

Their reasons were all different and not very appealing. Clearly, cheap labor with no regulation animated some of the farm and business groups. Farmers couldn't ignore accounts coming out of Georgia and Alabama of crops rotting in the fields. Cities and towns didn't want the extra work hunting down undocumented workers. The chamber feared the state would suffer boycotts and a hurt reputation.

These groups changed the way immigration is discussed in a state that's about as conservative as can be. Rhetoric about civil rights or racial profiling only goes so far here. Concerns about the business climate, agricultural interests, and government mandates gained traction. With all these "white" interests aligned to defeat the bill, even the most conservative politicians took note.

In Mississippi, the lieutenant governor gets to pick the heads of state Senate committees. Conservative Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves appointed a Democrat, Bob Armory, head of the Judiciary Committee and then sent the bill there. Armory never put it up for a vote. In defending the move that killed the bill, Reeves' spokeswoman said the concerns "expressed by the Mississippi Economic Council, Farm Bureau, the Mississippi Poultry Association, and local cities, counties, police chiefs, and sheriffs" weighed heavily.

Missing from that list is anything related to immigrants or their rights. The opposition spoke the language that would win in a conservative state. The victory may be discomforting, but it is a victory nonetheless.

Posted by at May 16, 2012 5:48 AM
  

blog comments powered by Disqus
« SAITH THE WELLSPRING: | Main | THE INACCURACY IS THE POINT OF THE MATTER: »