By Tamsin McMahon - Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 0 Comments
Alabama’s immigration laws are embarrassing the state, and costing it money
When Alabama passed America’s most aggressive immigration law last year, legislators heralded the bill as a cure for the state’s high unemployment.
Under the new law, virtually all interactions with any government official would become a test of an immigrant’s status—from roadside stops by police, to enrolling children in public school, to paying a utility bill.
The idea was to make it so difficult for illegal immigrants to live and work in the United States that they would simply pack up and leave, freeing up thousands of jobs for out-of-work Americans.
Leave they did. Officials say Alabama’s illegal alien population fell by 75,000 in the three months following the bill’s passage. But when it came to putting more Americans back to work, the reality has proven to be a lot more complicated.
Alabama’s poultry processing industry complained it couldn’t find enough local workers willing to spend long hours gutting chickens for low pay. Companies, it has emerged, are being forced to import African and Haitian refugees to do the work.
Meanwhile, Alabama became the butt of international jokes when police arrested a German Mercedes-Benz executive as well as a Honda manager from Japan for allegedly not having their proper immigration papers with them during roadside stops. Both were on temporary assignments overseeing Alabama’s burgeoning foreign auto industry; Honda has more than 4,000 employees in Alabama, with an investment worth $1.4 billion.
Rival states quickly turned news of the arrests into a chance to promote themselves as more friendly to international business. “We are the ‘Show Me State,’ not the ‘Show Me Your Papers State,’ ” trumped Missouri’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
It’s not just Alabama that is struggling with the fallout from its tough stand on illegal immigrants. Five other states have also enacted such laws. Georgia witnessed an estimated 40 per cent drop in the state’s farm workers, triggering nearly $140 million in agricultural losses in 2011 as unpicked produce rotted in fields. The state has since begun shipping in prisoners to help at harvest time. In Arizona, churches complained they witnessed an immediate drop in attendees and donations after immigration laws went into effect. One church reportedly went into foreclosure.
Far from putting more Americans back to work, business leaders complained the laws were discouraging foreign investment. Spanish bank BBVA Compass has scrapped plans for an $80-million office tower in Birmingham over immigration concerns. “We’ve used difficulties in other states to make sure those people come and look here,” David Bronner, head of Alabama’s pension system, told the Birmingham News. “We’ve just used a hammer and we’ve hit ourselves over the head with it.”
By Brian Bethune - Friday, September 21, 2012 at 11:11 AM - 0 Comments
Samuel Huntington, the American political scientist who wrote The Clash of Civilizations, once claimed that “Islam’s borders are bloody.” He should perhaps have cast his eye on Europe’s. Since 1988 more than 15,000 illegal migrants have perished trying to enter the heavily guarded European Union. Most drowned during the dangerous voyage across the continent’s southern sea border in overcrowded vessels, but others have suffocated in trucks, fallen from trains and buses or frozen to death in mountain passes. There have even been pitched battles: on Oct. 6, 2005, several hundred desperate Africans tried to scale the tall barbed wire fences that kept them from the North African Spanish enclave of Melilla; six died and many more were injured by the wire or by security forces beating them back with truncheons and rifle butts.
All this—the naval patrols, the soldiers, the detection technologies that form what Carr calls “the most sustained and extensive border enforcement program in history”—takes place at the edges of a continent which, although stagnating in a xenophobia-boosting financial crisis, still prides itself on its abolition of interior borders and still asserts that the defence of human rights is the cornerstone of its foreign policy. And to what avail? There are somewhere between five and eight million illegals in Europe, people mired in permanent statelessness, poverty and insecurity. Carr often compares the war on illegal immigration with the war on terror, but for sheer uselessness, the war on drugs is a better parallel: close one migrant route and another one immediately opens; deport one group of desperate people and another arrives.
Considering that the greying continent actually needs immigrants, Carr has some humane and sensible suggestions, the most important being that Europeans pay attention to their own history, and not just the blood-soaked ethnic warfare part. The EU only broke down its interior borders after a prolonged period of worry on the part of rich northern nations that they would be overwhelmed by over-breeding, low-income southern Europeans. Look how that turned out.
By Cathy Gulli - Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 5 Comments
The government’s anti-immigration policies are being used as evidence of the country saving money
A recent Danish report has provoked an uncomfortable debate about the economics of immigration. The report, based on data from five Danish ministries, indicates that the country saved $9.5 billion in housing and social assistance over the last decade by restricting immigrants from non-Western nations. By contrast, immigrants from Western countries were found to have contributed to the economy.
Denmark’s right-wing government and its allied parties have seized on the new information as validation of their anti-immigration agendas. Some politicians have suggested that the savings are, in fact, greater, once health and police expenditures are taken into account. And there are even calls to further clamp down on newcomers who “one can suspect will be a burden on Denmark,” as Søren Pind, the centre-right liberal integration minister, put it in a Danish newspaper.
But the country’s opposition parties see it differently: they say that the six per cent of Denmark’s population who are immigrants from outside the EU (totalling approximately 320,000 people) are being used as the “whipping boys” for Denmark’s $8.7-billion deficit. Marianne Jelved, spokesperson for the centre-left Social-Liberal Party, has called classifying people “depending on their value to the economy” nothing short of “degrading” and undemocratic.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
Arizona’s tough-talking cop is a Tea Party favourite, in spite of accusations of financial irregularities
Joe Arpaio’s reputation as a tough-on-immigration sheriff in Arizona is garnering him rock-star status among Tea Party members. And increasingly his influence is extending outside the borders of his home state. Last weekend he headlined a fundraiser for Colorado gubernatorial candidate and Tea Party fave Tom Tancredo.
Arpaio joined Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman in singing the praises of Tancredo, whose anti-immigration bona fides—he lambastes the “cult of multiculturalism”—are as impeccable as those of the sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Arizona’s capital Phoenix. And early in September, Arpaio gave a strong thumbs-up for Sharron Angle, the Tea Party candidate trying to unseat Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid in next-door Nevada. Angle reciprocated by stating every state needed a police chief like Arpaio.
For the ﬁve-term elected lawman, going after illegals involves more than stopping them crossing the border.
“Let’s say lock them up in the interior,” he declared at a rally near the border with Mexico, organized in part by the Tea Party Caucus. He claims to have arrested, investigated and detained more than 40,000 migrants in the past three years, in part by having officers stop people in immigrant neighbourhoods for minor infractions, such as jaywalking, and then ask their immigration status. Critics call the technique racial proﬁling, a charge Arpaio denies.
By Kate Lunau - Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
A far-right party wins 20 seats in Sweden
As a wave of anti-immigration sentiment sweeps across Europe, Sweden has seemed relatively immune. The country prides itself on a tolerant attitude, not to mention generous welfare and immigration policies (it brought in some 40,000 refugees in the first four years of the Iraq war). This makes recent election results all the more surprising. On Sept. 19, Swedish voters re-elected the ruling centre-right coalition—but gave the far-right Sweden Democrats 20 seats, inviting them to make their first entry into the national parliament.
Led by Jimmie Åkesson, who’s called Islam the country’s biggest security threat since the Second World War, the Sweden Democrats stirred up controversy throughout the campaign. One advertisement, which showed an elderly white woman trampled by a horde of burka-clad women pushing baby strollers, was banned from television but scored tens of thousands of hits on YouTube. The party wasn’t allowed to join in televised debates, but the country’s attitudes to immigration may now be aligning more closely with some of its neighbours’.
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt had asked voters for a clear majority. For now, at least, he’ll have to work with the fragile minority government he’s got.