Thursday, February 2, 2012

Alabama Immigration law

I had to go to the DMV today to get my license renewed, and fortunately it was a much more pleasant experience than when I had to get my vehicle tags renewed. At the time, the state has just begin to enforce the new immigration law that requires anyone who applies for a license of any kind to provide proof of citizenship via approved documents or social security number. Everyone in line was freaking out because it was taking too much time to process. I even had to call and get Jennings' social security number because his name is listed on my vehicle title. Everyone was griping and complaining, and in that moment, I looked at those people and thought, "Well this is what you wanted."

Well it has been a few months since the law was enacted, and as per usual, proponents of the law and critics of the law are doing battle on what the impact of the law will really be, especially in terms of economics. Recently the Center for Business and Economic Research at UA published a cost-benefit analysis for the law, and all the supporters of the bill are not having any of it.

One of the main findings of the study is a very general and practical point, "Economies are demand-driven and so any policy, regulation, law, or action that reduces demand will shrink the economy no matter how well-intentioned."

But, of course, this is what the legislators have to say about it:

"That's baloney," state Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, immigration bill cosponsor, told the Huntsville Times. "It's clear the study overestimates the negative and underestimates the positive to skew the result toward an agenda," Hammon said. "If 40,000 illegal workers leave the state, they free up jobs that homegrown Alabamians are happy to have."

Do they not think these folks get paid big bucks to do this all the time? Why would their conclusions be erroneous, simply because you think the law is such a great idea?

It just irritates me that things like this are the predominant images of Alabama. People around the country stereotype us as low country, down home, good old boys who are racist, sexist, and poor. In some ways, I can see why they would think that, when so many of the decisions that our state government makes end up looking so backward-thinking.

This American Life did a great piece on this topic. Even Gerald Dial, one of the senators who helped passed the law, said he regretted passing such a widely-reaching law. But he only means that for foreign companies who are looking to invest in the state.

I am the kind of person who believes in the little guy, and in this case, the little guy is the Latino person who lives next to you or goes to your school or you see in the store. All of them, even the legal ones, are being targeted in this law, and I think that is the wrong way to deal with this issue.

::steps off soapbox::