State Immigration Laws - Did Texas Sidestep a Landmine?

Several states passed Arizona style anti-immigrant laws this year. Texas did not.  Did we sidestep a landmine of unintended consequences? To point, Alabama and Georgia passed laws cracking down on illegal immigrants and employers.  These laws are palliative at best because they don't address the root cause of our illegal immigration problem, a wide open and unsecured border.  But the worst side of these laws are the unintended consequences, which are currently negatively impacting these two states.

July 1st, Georgia put into law, one of the toughest laws yet to fight illegal immigration. Despite the fact that a federal judge overturned the portion of the law that would require the police to check the immigration status of unidentified suspects (which could be useful in removing the criminal element of the illegal alien population), the portion of the law making it a felony to use false documentation to apply for a job remained in effect.

On the surface that sounds like a great idea, right.  But let's look at what has happened since then.

Photo by Vino Wong

Immigrant farm worker picking blackberries in Georgia. Photo by Vino Wong

In South Georgia, there is a bumper crop of Blackberries standing by to be picked. However, despite the high level of unemployment in our country, Americans are not showing up to apply for the jobs to pick these berries.  And, because of the new law in Georgia, the immigrant workers who normally line up for these jobs are staying away.

As a result, $200,000 worth of blackberries will rot in one farmer's field as they remain unpicked.  Extrapolate that out to hundreds of farmers across the state and you will find increases in the price of blackberries at your grocery store.  Yet another unintended consequence.

I remember screaming at my television when then President George W. Bush said in a State of the Union Address that illegal aliens were doing the jobs that Americans don't want to do.  But the more I have learned in my years of studying and working on this issue is, he was right in many cases. There are many jobs in this country that go unfilled if illegal aliens do not take them.  Of course, part of the reason they are illegal is because we cancelled programs that used to allow them to come here legally to do these kinds of jobs. This must be fixed.

Similarly, the situation in Alabama, where 7200 homes and businesses were leveled by a massive tornado in April.  There is a high demand for construction labor to rebuild these homes.  Yet, according to Bloomberg, much of that labor force is disappearing after Alabama's enactment of tough anti-immigrant laws.

In June, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed the 72 page document that became one of the newest and strongest immigration laws in the country.  The unintended consequence here, Hispanic workers are fleeing Tuscaloosa by the thousands.

According to the Bloomberg report, “Hispanics, documented and undocumented, dominate anything to do with masonry, concrete, framing, roofing, and landscaping,” said Bob McNelly, a contractor with Nash-McCraw Properties, during an interview at a coffee shop near a destroyed gas station and bank.

“There are very few subcontractors I work with that don’t have a Hispanic workforce.

The city of 90,000 imposed a moratorium on major reconstruction that ends Aug. 8 to enable it to plan its remaking. The rebuilding, McNelly said, will be harder and more expensive without them: “It’s not the pay rate. It’s the fact that they work harder than anyone. It’s the work ethic.

These kinds of stories are being replicated in every state that has enacted strong anti immigration laws. The unintended consequence is always economic damage to the state.  I know this is not going to be a popular article, but it is something we must think about.

Why should we shoot ourselves in the foot when these laws do not address the root cause of the problem - The federal government's failure to secure the border and enact responsible immigration reform.

Rep. John GarzaThis year, the Texas House Republican Hispanic Conference introduced a resolution, HCR88, to call on the federal government to do just that. Secure the border and address immigration laws in a responsible fashion that does not allow for amnesty, but recognizes the economic impact of immigrant workers in this country. Wisely, the leadership of the legislature avoided passing harsh anti-immigrant laws that would have caused negative economic impact in Texas.

Our undefined border policy has left a situation of chaos and lawlessness along our southern border. This chaos has caused drug cartels to flourish and has created a new industry of human trafficking and abuse of decent human beings.  A virtual war has broken out south of our border because we will not address the issue responsibly. States are scrambling across the country trying to figure out how to solve a massive problem that affects them but they have no real authority to address.

We must send a message to Washington that we want our border secured and we want an end to the broken system of unenforced ineffective immigration laws which must be addressed to ultimately resolve this problem.


Make sure to check out the comments on Facebook.

That was to be the funniest thing I've read all day!  We ARE sending messages to Washington, Sir...THEY ARE IGNORING US!!!

"Our undefined border policy has left a situation of chaos and lawlessness along our southern border" what do you mean 'our'?...It's the President of the United States doing nothing!!! He doesn't give a good spit about Texas!

And frankly, I don't give a damn what Georgia and Alabama did, it's their state legislatures that wrote the law and they live with the consequences. Also I note that you didn't mention Governor Perry at all in the article, why?

Finally, just to make sure you 'get the message', what part of Illegal Alien don't you understand? You milktoast Liberal Republicans make me sick to my stomach. Do me a favor, just switch parties, thanks.

Have a nice day.

Palin/Rubio 2012


Is it possible that more Americans aren't running to the jobs because the unemployment benefits are better than working?

Is it possible that Americans are supposedly not working as hard as the illegal aliens because if they get fired, they can fall back on taxpayers to support them?

Benjamin Franklin said that the best way to help poor people is to make them uncomfortable in their poverty. Not hurt, not ignore, just help people to know that not working means being not being as well off as if one is working. In my humble opinion, the source of many of these unintended consequences is the way the State makes "poverty" quite comfortable, indeed, as I have seen many times firsthand.

As for the laws cracking down on illegal immigration, I believe that what Texas could do is charge the Federal Government with dereliction of duty (or something to that effect), as the Constitution clearly states that it is their responsibility to protect and secure the borders of the country - and that the states are not.

The situation needs to be fixed for the safety of the citizens of this nation. If the fix includes the migrant worker program, that's wonderful on several levels. However, to get Americans to "work harder than anyone" would not take much by the way help...using Ben's definition of the word, not the Nanny State's.

Our country's problems with this issue spans decades and the dominance of both parties in the Congress and the White House.  Yet, we don't seem to get the concept that insanity is "doing the same thing over and over, expecting the outcome to change."

When I was a teen-ager in an agricultural area of California, the Bracero Program was in effect and was judged to be effective.  Workers came in from Mexico on work permits, picked the various crops over the spring and summer, and returned to Mexico for the winter.  Many returned to work the same farms or ranches in subsequent years, working for farmers/ranchers that they trusted to pay them fairly, and who trusted them to do a good job and treat the crops with respect.  As I recall, this got cancelled in the guise of welfar reforem. 

If we bring back a program where seasonal workers can enter (and exit) this country in an orderly fashion, it might be easier to get control over the smuggling of drugs across the border.  There would be fewer people crossing the border illegally, and it would be easier to assume that those who are might be smuggling drugs instead of looking for work picking crops.

Bottom lline is that what we have been doing the past 30+ years has never worked and it is time to try something different.

If the Republicans really want to fix the immigration problem, why did they vote against the DREAM act? Is it because the act was promulgated by Democrats? If so, it's sad because the DREAM act is the only sensible and practical solution for illegal immigration that has ever come along. When the GOP voted "No," they didn't follow up with their own plan, hence, it seems as though they simply don't want Democrats to get credit for being the ones to take the lead in this very divisive issue. When you ask a Republican, he/she says we must build a wall and secure the border first. How long have we been hearing that refrain with no success in sight? Even if you could build a fence that could actually keep people out, what would you do with the 10 or 20 million illegals here now? The DREAM act has a lot of hoops that illegal immigrants must jump through in order to get citizenship. If they can succeed in satisfying those rigid requirements, they deserve citizenship. They will have proven that they are decent, honorable people who can make a substantial contribution to their new country. If Republicans have a better plan, it's way past the time that they announced it. Saying "NO" to every proposal will never solve the problem.

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