Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Lou Dobbs Backlash and the color green

As Americans, the colors red, white and blue are supposed to get our hearts beating faster.

But the real moving and shaking color in this nation is green, the color of dollar bills and growing profits from capitalism.

And it is the color of green that is remarkably shifting the mood of citizens and policymakers across the country when it comes to undocumented workers and their families. Arizona lawmakers, who just last year had passed a get unreasonably tough law on undocumented workers, now are getting close to enacting a new law that would establish a guest worker program for the exact Mexican workers they originally wanted to kick out of the state.

Lou Dobbs must be revolving skyward in his anchor chair.

CNN's Randi Kaye led off a May 1 report about The Arizona Experience with " 'I told ya so' -- that's what a lot of people n Arizona are saying.' "

The exodus of thousands of undocumented workers Mexico -- following Arizona's enactment of its tough illegal immigration law on Jan. 1 against employers -- has left the state's economy reeling and a lot of businesses angry over jobs that have gone unfilled.

One steel plant owner told Kaye that he had to fire 12 employees under the law, or first face a big fine and then the loss of his business license. The owner has NOT been able to find the needed skilled workers to fill the jobs. So he can't bid on contracts. If things don't change, he is going to lose $5 million to $6 million. And that may well mean his businsses closes, and all the rest of his workers lose their jobs.

So Arizona's business lobby and advocacy groups have drawn up Senate Bill 1508, which would allow businesses to hire Mexican workers through the Mexican consulate if they can prove they have been uable to fill vacant jobs. The guest worker pass would last for two years. The measure has drawn the support of Arizona congressman, Rep. John Shadegg. Where does Arizona Sen. and GOP presidential nominee John McCain stand? Inquiring minds want to know.

Won't this reversal from The Arizona Experience just increase the cost to taxpayers, as Dobbs always claims? No. An incredibly thorough study by the University of Arizona produced the following bottom line: Undocumented workers and their families contribute almost $1 billion more into Arizona state revenue than they take for services.

Now, these taxpayers are not in Arizona. And Kaye says that farmers are talking about $3 a head for lettuce if a guest worker program is not enacted. Coupled with $4 a gallon gas, Arizonans are going to run out of money in their pocketbooks quite quickly.

America's business community is waking up to the truth and its need to finally speak up -- not only for what is morally right but what is profitable for all. Fortune magazine reports that in Oklahoma, where an Arizona-like law was just enacted, businesses in Oklahoma City and Tulsa are suffering from an exodus of workers. And these are SKILLED workers, not just toilet bowl cleaners.

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce told Fortune that 20% of the city's construction labor force -- 2,000 skilled workers -- has left the area in the past four months. Tulsa Chamber president Mike Neal says 15,000 to 20,000 Hispanic workers have left the oil city.

Hispanic leaders and advocates in Nashville are trying to warn businesses and lawmakers here about the same impact with Davidson County's 287(g) program, which arrests and deports undocumented workers and their families for minor offenses such as fishing without a license or driving with a broken taillight. Authorities claim the deportation is actually for being illegally present in the country. But they wouldn't stop and get their hands on these good people if it were not for traffic offenses and fishing without a license. Metro Police are not at fault for this program. They are politically caught in a bind -- like the Hispanic immigrants -- by an opportunistic county sheriff. Local attorney Mario Ramos has called for a forum to discuss the extent of the Nashville exodus. The same exodus recently happened in Springfield, TN., after News Channel 5 did a series of reports on undocumented workers employed by the largest employer there.

Metro's new mayor wants to build a $600 million convention center over several city blocks. Where is he going to find the workers? Where are Metro businesses going to find their workers. This coming crisis is much more than Mexicans doing jobs that locals don't want. We're talking about a lack of SKILLED workers.

People like Lou Dobbs have dominated the nation's immigration discussion by pandering to the worst in Americans. But The Arizona Experience has shown his ranting and raving to be a bunch of hot air, not backed by solid facts and certainly not in the best interest of taxpayers and employers. Dobbs is about Dobbs, and making a name for himself by encouraging hate and fear of immigrants. He also allows CNN to have a prominent conservative voice to counter FOX News' galaxy of stars.

That farce leaves the fate of our communities in our own hands. And that's why Nashville and other cities should heed The Arizona Experience before permanent damage is done to the economy, businesses and the well-being of all workers.

1 comment:

Jim Boyd said...


I'm IN Arizona... The dire situation you describe here just ain't happening!

Check your sources' sources.

Also, check out this site: