There’s 49 Other States

From Think Progress
, a year ago this guy would have gotten a ticket, not tossed in the slammer…

Alabama’s economy is suffering because of HB 56, the state’s draconian immigration law, as workers flee out of fear. State Sen. Scott Beason (R), who sponsored the anti-immigrant bill in the Alabama legislature, once called it a “jobs bill,” but the state’s immigration law is leaving entire industries without enough workers instead.

And the extreme law, which legislators are now reconsidering, could seriously damage the state’s reputation as well after police arrested a German Mercedes-Benz executive last week under the immigration law. Mercedes opened its first American manufacturing plant in Vance, Alabama in 1993, spurring a trend of foreign car makers and suppliers opening factories in the state. They may be rethinking that decision, however, after one of their German executives was arrested for simply not having his passport with him.

Read the rest here.

Think Progress links to a story in Associated Press

[Alabama Governor, Robert]Bentley, a Republican who signed the illegal immigration law earlier this year, called the state’s homeland security director, Spencer Collier, after hearing of the arrest to get details about had happened, Collier said in an interview.

“Initially I didn’t have them, so I called Chief Anderson to find out what happened,” Collier said. “It sounds like the officer followed the statute correctly.”

Collier said he didn’t know how Bentley found out about the arrest, and Bentley press secretary Jennifer Ardis referred all questions to Collier.

Collier said he has made at least a dozen similar calls to law enforcement agencies that made arrests under the law to see how it is being handled, and he said his call to Anderson wasn’t prompted by the fact a Mercedes executive was arrested.

“It’s just to make sure they’re using best practices and following the law,” he said.

If I were cynical, I’d take a perverse pleasure in the fact that the un-named Mercedes exec probably didn’t ‘look illegal’.

Bloomberg Business at msnbc has a detailed article about Why Americans Won’t do Dirty Jobs.

The short version is that these jobs are so difficult, dangerous and poorly paid that in an American economy workers lose money doing them. The only way to make it work is to send the American dollars to a poorer country where the value is greater. Bloomberg describes workers toiling 13 hours for $60. And this bears further investigation– an American worker trying to make a job in the fields..

In a neighboring field, Cedric Rayford is working a row. The 28-year-old came up with two friends from Gadsden, Ala., after hearing on the radio that farmers were hiring. The work is halfway complete when one member of their crew decides to quit. Rayford and crewmate Marvin Turner try to persuade their friend to stay and finish the job. Otherwise, no one will get paid. Turner even offers $20 out of his own pocket as a sweetener to no effect. “When a man’s mind is made up, there’s about nothing you can do,” he says.

NO ONE WILL GET PAID??? I’ll bet this is some ‘independent contractor’ deal where the workers get no hourly wage, no social security, no workers comp. insurance. This bears further investigation.

Alabama and other states that erode workers rights, health and safety are left with an economy that depends on jobs that do not pay a living wage. Governor Bentley has just dug deeper into the pit. Scapegoating immigrants won’t solve Alabama’s problems. Supporting workers rights is essential, but won’t offer any short-term political gain, and is not in sync with the Republican Party.

Mercedes, y’all can come up here. We could use some good jobs and we don’t arrest people for forgetting their driver’s license.

We Are All Arizonians

Or is it Arizonans? Arizonites? Whatever Sarah Palin said.

If you get caught jaywalking in Arizona, you’d better be prepared to SHOW YOUR PAPERS. Unless you can say who won the World Series in ’73, or remember the words to the theme from Gilligan’s Island. Okay, I’m just speculating on quick and easy ways to prove your citizenship.

If a law that targets one group of people makes you uneasy for your own civil rights and liberties then you are thinking a few steps ahead. What goes around comes around.

You think it can’t happen here? This is from

CENTRAL FALL, R.I. — Central Falls Police Chief Joseph P. Moran III has launched an internal investigation into a Guatemalan man’s allegation that a desk-duty officer refused to let him report a beating, because – as the officer allegedly said – the man “is Spanish” and therefore presumed he must be “an illegal immigrant.”

The accuser, Mario Ortega, of Central Falls, speaking through an interpreter, said the officer told him that “because of his [assumed] immigration status, he can’t file a police report.” Ortega said the officer also said that “his [the officer’s] tax money doesn’t cover his [Ortega’s] being in the hospital” as a result of his injuries.

If this story is true, then a police officer didn’t bother to pursue a couple of thugs who beat a man so badly that his bone was sticking out of his leg. Just leave them on the street. They won’t bother anyone.

I’m proud that the minister of my church will be in Arizona this month, standing against racism, against profiling, and for justice. Immigration reform and fair enforcement are badly needed, compromising civil rights is not the answer.

A Strong America

Lest we forget, we are a great nation, we are not a small, scared, besieged society circling the wagons and rationing justice. This is the American soul, inscribed in bronze at the base of the Statue of Liberty…

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, 1883

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Lady Liberty was born in France, came to America and settled in New York Harbor to welcome immigrants, my own great-grandparents included. A young man from France once told me that America gets the most ambitious, the bravest and most enterprising people from all over the world. You don’t have to be Einstein to see his point.

In 2006 twenty thousand Rhode Islanders assembled on the Statehouse lawn to support immigration reform. This was the biggest demonstration since the Vietnam War. I know, because I was there. It was freezing cold at that rally, a perfect Spring day today. Let’s see who shows.

UPDATE: A few hundred people showed up, representatives from community groups and I saw some Quakers and Unitarians in the crowd. The Washington Post has an article on the economics of immigration. The next governor of Rhode Island should focus on job creation. We’ve seen zero benefit from scapegoating immigrants– it’s time to look at changes to help working families and small businesses.

Here is the coverage. Check out the comments and you will see that defending immigrants is a guaranteed way to get flamed. Reform is long overdue.

Estamos Unidos Con McCain

While idly perusing Wonkette I saw a front page from Arizona senatorial candidate John McCain’s Spanish language website. Que feliz, amigos, I thought, sing Kumbaya. I clicked on the link and there was the English site, headlining border security.

What happened to the famous Spanish site, that was all the rage in 2008? Where is the love this Cinco de Mayo? You can click here to an address called John But it is not en Espanol. I searched Google for that Spanish version, but had no success. Can you find it? Was it deported?

Taking the long view of US history, the reason we don’t have an official language is because with the exception of Native Americans we all arrived from somewhere else. I heard a rumor that Lady Liberty was conceived in France, but she’s All-American to me.

Technically American

Well, that’s a new one on me. This year’s New York City Marathon winner is American, but not enough to make us proud, according to Darren Rovell, CNBC sports reporter.

He actually did use the term, ‘technically American’.

Meb Keflezighi, who won yesterday in New York, is technically American by virtue of him becoming a citizen in 1998, but the fact that he’s not American-born takes away from the magnitude of the achievement the headline implies.

Darren Rovell can go ahead and sulk. I’ll just say, ‘Go USA!’.

Hope They’re Wearing Flame-Proof Vestments

I seem to recall that Bishop Tobin made a few mild statements in defense of immigrants and the ProJo letters page blasted him for it. But a brave group of clergy is giving it another try…

The Rhode Island State Council of Churches will release on Monday a 2,600-word document developed over the course of a year by the council’s Faith and Order Commission.

The document starts with a reminder to both Jews and Christians that Abraham, the first patriarch of the Hebrews, had been “called by the Lord” to emigrate from his homeland, and that Jews were constantly admonished in the Scriptures not to “wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Similarly, it says, it speaks of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman as an example of reaching out to people across ethnic lines, and points to his admonition that punishment will go to those “who do not feed the hungry or clothe the naked.”

“All the Christian denominations in the U.S. are immigrant churches. The history of our churches is a mixed record, though, and many of us have apparently forgotten our origins,” the statement laments.

At the very beginning of his term, President George W. Bush met with President Vincente Fox of Mexico, to discuss immigration. That was abandoned when Fox refused to join the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ in the Iraq war. The Republican Party, unfortunately, has never stood up to those under its big tent who blame immigrants for all our problems.

For the clergy to issue a statement, even a late and mild one, shows moral courage. They’ll face criticism, but that’s their job, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.