According to Preston, Julia. 2007. “Surge in Immigration Laws Around U.S.” New York Times, August 6, “State legislatures, grappling with the failure of the federal government to overhaul the immigration laws, considered 1,404 immigration measures this year and enacted 170 of them, an unprecedented surge in state-level lawmaking on the issue, according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures.”
Some states adopted laws to discourage illegal immigration–such as regulating employers, while others adopted anti-immigrant laws, designed to reduce quality of life–theoretically for immigrants only, yet somehow all us non-elites get the royal rear penetration.
“Every state debated immigration issues, and 41 states adopted immigration laws. A large number of new laws cracked down on employers who hire illegal immigrants. The broadest measure was passed in Arizona and signed into law by Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, in July. Arizona employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants face suspension of their business license for the first offense and the permanent loss of their license for a second offense within three years. The law requires employers to verify the status of job applicants with a federal immigration database known as Basic Pilot.
‘The message loud and clear from our constituents was their frustration that the federal government has not taken the necessary action to secure the border,’ Timothy S. Bee, a Republican who is the president of the Arizona Senate, said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Tennessee made it a criminal offense, rather than a civil one, to ‘recklessly employ’ an illegal immigrant, with fines up to $50,000. Several states passed laws denying state contracts to employers of illegal immigrants, and other laws barred those immigrants from collecting unemployment benefits. In all, 26 laws on employing immigrants were passed in 19 states — covering the nation from Hawaii to Arkansas to Georgia — with most of the measures intended to curb illegal immigrants’ access to jobs.
But in Illinois, lawmakers barred the state from requiring employers to verify job applicants through the Basic Pilot system. The legislators called the system unreliable and error-prone.”
Immigration economist George Borjas points out that “The United States could probably deter many more illegal aliens by imposing substantial penalties on the employers who hire them (than by barring illegal immigrants from public services and goods). These firms–large agricultural enterprises, sweatshops, and native households that hire illegal aliens as maids or nannies–get the bulk of the gains from illegal immigration, but bear few of the costs. The demand for illegal aliens would probably drop dramatically if the government began to bill the owners of the fields where the aliens toil and the families who hire illegal servants for the expenses incurred by public schools and Medicaid” (Borjas 1999:206). Borjas runs through other discincentive suggestions from an economic efficiency point of view, before suggesting that the US link the point system for legal immigration with the size of the illegal alien flow.
Preston describes anti-immigrant laws: “Several states — including Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana and Nevada — passed new laws or hardened existing ones to bar illegal immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses. The ‘toughest’ (eg. most fascist) law was adopted in Louisiana, which now requires applicants’ names to be checked against a federal immigration database as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s terrorism watch list.
Eleven states enacted 15 laws on public benefits, most of them denying state assistance to illegal immigrants. In May, Minnesota passed a version of a federal law that makes illegal immigrants ineligible for most medical aid.”
Here is a depressing story about how American conservatives are scapegoating immigrants for (capitalist class warfare and) the decline of the American working class (what’s new, Know-nothings?):
Kotlowitz, Alex. 2007. “Our Town” The New York Times, August 5. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/05/magazine/05Immigration-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=magazine.
Way too many Americans will do anything to other people just to cling to that one source of status they have remaining–nationalist. When the going gets tough, American working class chumps get their festering, ineffectual hate on! How’s that been working for y’all? Solving lots of problems, Mean Joe Blow Green? Restoring quality of life much? While you bluster furiously about your nasty, punitive little laws, *further* decreasing the quality of life (oh sure, you’re just trying to immiserate the immigrants, and yet it just gets worse and worse for everyone), your bosses are laughing. All. The. Way. To. The. Bank.
And as for the educated liberals–at whose behest we never, ever talk about the central role of capitalist class warfare in our lives–are you enjoying living in your fasco-racist society and pretending it’s all the fault of working class people for not accepting their lot and being nicer?
The only way anything is going to change is if somebody manages to privately recognize that the U.S. is set up to be run by vicious pricks and managed by unreflective cogs–and yet still works to help people develop some semblance of humanity in the public sphere. How can we facilitate working class leaders to come up with something other than authoritarian responses to the problems of rampant authoritarianism? The mega churches aren’t doing it.