At one time Alabama wasn’t much different on the immigration front – concerned about illegals walking into their nation, but happy to have them pick our crops for us and willing to tolerate them shipping their money to each other via Western Union (and thereby subsidizing our Poverty Industrial Complex).
That state has since suffered. Crops that would have been picked long ago sat rotting in the fields or were plowed under, Billions in state GDP (and 250 million plus in lost tax revenue) lost, a dropoff in school attendance that led quite a few school districts to go into cutbacks, and other negative effects. Construction no longer happens, and even with an 8.1 percent unemployment rate there are a large number of jobs that remain unfilled.
But…how about the state citizens? What do they think?
Evidently, the non-hispanic citizens of Alabama support HB 56. Hispanics found themselves unable to get government services whether they were naturalized, full citizens or not. They also found themselves unable to get services from private citizens and companies. When Farmers started complaining about the lack of workers for their fruit and vegetable crop harvests, the citizens responded with catcalls and jeers – and when they complained about not finding enough workers, the people responded with “PAY A DECENT WAGE.”
They even went so far as to have some Germans arrested. Thereby proving to everyone that HB56 was serious business to them.
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Now I’m not going to go into a defense of Illegal Aliens, nor shall I sympathize with farmers long used to paying sub-minimum wages – although it would appear that the abuses have grown worse, and sprouted newer forms to boot. I also know what the law says. I also know and understand that America is probably the only nation that would welcome these people with any sort of willingness (I know how immigration laws work). And just so you understand, I’m not about to whine about how we should treat Hispanics as more American than us.
My point here is about how people tend to go along with laws because those laws are laws.
Before HB 56 was passed, one wouldn’t have heard about Latino children punished for the sins of parents wanting a better life for themselves and their children. You wouldn’t have heard suburbanites laughing at farmers who grew their fruits and vegetables. You wouldn’t have heard about kids being pulled out of school because they were afraid the kids would have been sent to a big-man’s jail for not having “proper identification” (name one kid who had proper identification. I know I didn’t carry mine around until after getting my driver’s license. There was no real need to before then, back when I was growing up.) Wal-Marts gave the people who asked for their money from Western Union their money, because it was company policy and the right thing to do.
But put HB 56 into the law books…and Latinos starve because their parents can’t prove they’re US citizens (never mind whether the kids, or the parents, are US citizens). Make HB 56 law, and fruit and veggie prices go up. Kids are withdrawn from school and taken by their parents “back” to Mexico-where its drug cartels are now at war with its civilian population (I wonder whether the American Government had its hands in creating that atmosphere, but I digress…) because HB 56 is so overwhelming. Inject HB 56 into the body politic, and Wal-Mart employees no longer give people who look like they came from south of the border at some point in the past 100 years the money that’s coming to them (and I can’t blame them, with HB 56 making “helping out a Latino/Hispanic in need” a felony worthy of long prison time).
And understand – the only thing that changed is a law.
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Probably the one thing that your average American (I’d say “Libertarian,” but since Libertarianism is the default Economic/Political viewpoint of America, I say American) doesn’t wish to understand is that Government and Law affects people’s opinions and acts. And NOT in the way that your average Neocon wishes (“Governmental action provokes the proper opposite reaction from the free.”)
The fact is, whatever is the official activity/opinion of the government is generally the majority viewpoint.
Let’s look at bombing during the Vietnam War. While it was going on over 60% of the people SUPPORTED bombing North Vietnam; once the bombing ended it turned out that over 60% of the people OPPOSED bombing North Vietnam. That wasn’t because they were interviewing different people, it’s because of the bias underlying much thought that basically assumes that the Government reflects to some degree the will of the people.
You can see that with Abortion. When it was generally accepted that Abortion was a full right without any restrictions, that was what the majority of the people supported. Now that there’s a general air of restrictions that tends to imply that Abortion should not be done, the mood of the people is that Abortion should be a right…just not an unrestricted right. What’s interesting here is that a small group of people who have time to spare and are paid well enough to have that time to spare are driving the debate towards abolition, and it will be interesting to see what happens to public opinion when they get what they want (The ideal being a family with 17 Irish Twins and a set of Triplets) (and I do expect that they’ll get what they want – they’ve already changed the Republican Party to their image, and I think there’s enough people afraid enough of “the other” to give them their chance through this election cycle.).
So what happened with Alabama. The citizens of Alabama probably happily tolerated the Hispanics, made friends with them, served them and ate the vegetables they picked at sub-minimal wages before HB 56; now that HB56 is law they’ve turned on their erstwhile neighbors.
Not because of a change of heart. Because of a change of law.