Small Town America Killed Immigration Bill

The Stiletto, Political Mavens, July 3, 2007

In a classic application of bottom-up management denizens of small towns let their elected representatives in Washington D.C. know exactly how they expected them to handle the compromised immigration compromise bill that neither secured our borders, nor was any more enforceable than previous legislation it was meant to “fix.”

Earlier waves of immigrants—legal and illegal—flocked to CA, FL, IL, NJ, NY and TX (“gateway” states) but have been dispersing across a wider swath of the U.S. since 2000. The foreign-born, non-English speaking populations of DE, GA, IN, NE, NV and SC have exploded, say demographers, with the “newcomers” (as President Bush is wont to call them) preferentially settling in (some say, overrunning) small towns and sleepy suburbs. And people who live in these places saying, “enough!”

Here’s what Stephanie Usrey, 39, a stay-at-home mother who lives in Gainesville, GA, tells The Washington Post about the “aha” moment she had at a local Wal-Mart about five years ago:

“That was the first time I looked around and said, ‘Man, I didn’t realize how many Mexicans there were here.’ And they don’t seem to feel any discomfort when they’re, like, six inches from your face and talking to each other in their language, either. I just felt very encroached upon. . .. It was like an instant feeling of ‘I’m in the minority, and if we don’t get control over this, pretty soon all of America will be outnumbered.’”

Spurred into activism by talk-radio Usrey and tens of thousands others like her in small towns all across the U.S. “bombarded their senators with phone calls and e-mails decrying the bill as an unacceptable amnesty for the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants,” says the WaPo. And they didn’t let up till they got results:

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Another example of bottom-up management: With the federal government unable or unwilling to enforce existing immigration laws, small town governments, like Hazelton, PA, and Framers Branch, TX, took matters into their own hands by enacting local ordinances against businesses that hire illegal labor. And some local enforcement officials have decided to, well, enforce immigration law.

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Such local initiatives are not going unnoticed by state legislatures, which are now going even further in attempting to curb illegal immigration, according to The WaPo:

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At least 18 states have enacted laws concerning illegal immigrants. Most of the legislation is seen as punitive, and it reflects legislators’ anger at the federal government’s inability to seal the southern border and at provisions in the Senate bill that would allow the 12 million illegal immigrants already here a path to citizenship. …

[M]any states are increasingly frustrated at having to provide expensive services for illegal immigrants.

In a repudiation of the “sanctuary city” trend, local police in OK now train with federal authorities to learn how to find and capture illegal immigrants, and AZ is considering allowing officers to ask people they arrest whether they are U.S. citizens and to seize them if they don’t have valid documents to prove it.

OK also bars illegal immigrants from receiving public assistance, VA approved a proposal to withhold state and local funding from any non-profit group that uses the money to provide services to illegal immigrants and MA rejected a proposal that would have allowed illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition.

The Masters Of The Universe and the business community might not like it, but when marshaled, the will of the people is a force to be reckoned with.

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