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November 28, 2011


so much for your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

by Andrea O'Connell

I have written about the hedonistic immigration laws in Alabama in the recent past.  What prompted me to write about this again was the Op-Ed I read today in the New York Times titled The Price of Intolerance that examines the economic and social toll the immigration law has taken on the state.

Even though Alabama’s Immigration Law is fairly new – less than 6 months old – and is modeled after Arizona’s aggressive law, its problems are becoming increasing painful for Alabamians.  Whether or not Alabama will revoke the laws because of the economic issues, is another thing altogether.

Regardless, this law is doing damage to nearly all sectors of Alabama’s economic and social stratosphere.

Few words are more famous or more evocative than these from Emma Lazarus's "The New Colussus": "Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, they have come to represent America's promise. Institution: American Jewish Historical Societquite a while to come.

Let’s hope the fallout in Alabama will be a critical warning sign to other states, like Florida and California, hoping to pass a similar law.  Florida, where I live, is one of the few states considering a similar law to Arizona and Alabama’s.   Florida is also building its own Immigration prison slash detention center.  They don’t like to call it a prison, though we all know that is precisely what it is.  It’s a prison for immigrants who are CAUGHT without papers.  SLAM goes the door to the cell that will hold mothers and fathers of children who did nothing to deserve having their life destroyed  other than being born in the USA.

Apparently illegal immigrants are being held in Florida’s criminal jails.  Maybe I’ve been under a rock, but I didn’t think this was happening.   I know that immigration facilities existed, but I was under that impression that people held there were also criminals.  WRONG, Ms. Ostrich.

In a recent article by Laura Wides-Munoz of the Associated Press, the plans are laid out:

The proposed facility is part of the federal government’s new plan to move immigrants from jails to detention centers it says are better for holding people with no criminal background. The centers are also supposed to be easier to reach for detainees’ relatives and lawyers  (Arizona Republic, Nov. 19, 2011).

I find it difficult to wrap my head around this.  It makes me sick to my stomach to think that the Immigration Detention center will jail people without any criminal record.  They will be criminals just as soon as they’re caught without paperwork.   I have also learned this Florida Detention center will be privately run – i.e. not run by the government. That is scary in itself.

As far as the impact to Alabamians, the damage is just now coming to light, according to the New York Times.   For instance, workers who’d normally work on farms are largely, if not all, immigrants. Americans don’t want these jobs.

In Alabama, workers are fleeing for fear of being jailed.  This means the farmer’s crops are dying on the vine, work is not getting done in other businesses supported by an immigrant population.

The New York Times Op Ed asks, how will Alabama deal with the extra police needed to handle the immigration dragnets?  Alabama is not exactly a wealthy state -far from it.

Who will step into the jobs held by the immigrant populations?

Undocumented immigrants make up about 4.2 percent of Alabama’s work force, or 95,000 people in a state of 4.8 million. For all the talk about clearing the way for unemployed Americans, there is no evidence that Alabamians in any significant numbers are rushing to fill the gap left by missing farm laborers and other low-wage immigrant workers (New York Times, The Price of Intolerance ).

Recently in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a manager from the Mercedes-Benz company was visiting the local work site.  The manager was found driving without a driver’s license or any legal identification documents and he was taken to jail since he was potentially an illegal immigrant.

Now, that’s a cautionary tale.   We are America, the land of the free?

“Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” wrote Emma Lazarus in her sonnet, The New Colossus, written at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Not so much.  Not anymore.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. jakesprinter
    Nov 29 2011

    Great article 🙂

  2. Nov 29 2011

    Andrea, my friend, you are far from being alone, in your assessment of America, I see it too, sadly, all around me, everywhere I look, boiling it down to the 7 deadly sins. Pointing fingers and laying blame is nothing more than generational smoke and mirrors. I read, and appreciate, MY VIEW AND OPINION’S comments but to say one partyline is to blame over another, is pointless, just smoke and mirrors, and finger-pointing. What every American, meaning, WE THE PEOPLE, the REAL backbone of America, recognize the NEED for change, for truth, for justice, and liberty for all, It is past time, for ACCOUNTABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY, across the board, board-room, and the CHIEF OF STAFF table, warts and all. ~just my humble opinion.

    • Faith(Tommy's Mom)
      Nov 29 2011

      ITA and these are my sentiments.

      I’m soon to be 74 years old and I’m tired.

      I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth” to people who
      don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take
      the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy
      to earn it.

      I’m tired of being told that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” when every day
      I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and
      daughters for their family “honor”; of Muslims rioting over some slight
      offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren’t
      “believers”; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning
      teenage rape victims to death for “adultery”; of Muslims mutilating the
      genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur’an and
      Shari’a law tells them to.

      I’m tired of being told that out of “tolerance for other cultures” we must let
      Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries use our oil money to fund mosques
      and madrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in Australia , New Zealand ,
      UK, America and Canada , while no one from these countries are allowed to
      fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia or any other
      Arab country to teach Love and Tolerance..

      I’m tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global
      warming, which no one is allowed to debate.

      I’m tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help
      support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ
      rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses
      or stick a needle in their arm while they tried to fight it off?

      I’m tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of all
      parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful
      mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting
      caught. I’m tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.

      I’m really tired of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives and
      actions. I’m tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination
      or big-whatever for their problems.

      I’m also tired and fed up with seeing young men and women in their teens and
      early 20’s be-deck them selves in tattoos and face studs, thereby making
      themselves un-employable and claiming money from the Government.

      Yes, I’m damn tired. But I’m also glad to be 73. Because, mostly, I’m not
      going to have to see the world these people are making. I’m just sorry for
      my granddaughter and her children. Thank God I’m on the way out and not
      on the way in.
      JMHO of course
      I’m off my soap box now!

  3. Nov 30 2011

    I just thought of an irony- we are all descendants of immigrants, unless, the REAL truth be held to light, of the Native “American” Indian bloodline. So, technically, WE THE PEOPLE, are foreigners!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses… « My View and Opinion
  2. Told You So; Alabama Immigration | Young's Blog

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