Palumbo and Maselli Make 2nd Attempt at RI Immigration Reform
Democrat State Rep. Peter Palumbo and Democrat Sen. Christopher Maselli have filed new legislation aimed at curbing illegal immigration in Rhode Island.
The legislation, a revamped version of a bill that died during the last General Assembly, aims to tighten state laws regarding issuance of driver’s licenses and to make it unlawful for businesses or individuals to harbor undocumented immigrant workers. Both legislators said the issue is about economics and protecting jobs.
But enough about the actual legislation and its goals, the ProJo devotes the rest of the story (about 2/3s) to the reaction of those who oppose the measure. Nothing new there, just the normal rhetorical conflation of “immigrant” with “illegal immigrant” (apparently, “nuance” is a term of convenience and not applicable in the illegal immigration debate) and the old tropes about purported racism and hatred of non-English speakers are trotted out. But then there was this:
William Shuey, executive director of the International Institute, said similar legislation enacted in other parts of the country “has done nothing to address the underlying issues that need to be addressed by federal legislation…
Illegal immigrants living in states and cities that have adopted strict immigration policies are packing up and moving back to their home countries or to neighboring states.
The exodus has been fueled by a wave of laws targeting illegal immigrants in Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia and elsewhere. Many were passed after congressional efforts to overhaul the immigration system collapsed in June.
Immigrants say the laws have raised fears of workplace raids and deportation.
“People now are really frightened and scared because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” says Juliana Stout, an editor at the newspaper El Nacional de Oklahoma. “They’re selling houses. They’re leaving the country.”
Supporters of the laws cheer the departure of illegal immigrants and say the laws are working as intended.
Oklahoma state Rep. Randy Terrill, Republican author of his state’s law, says the flight proves it is working. “That was the intended purpose,” he says. “It would be just fine with me if we exported all illegal aliens to the surrounding states.”
Most provisions of an Oklahoma law take effect in November. Among other things, it cuts off benefits such as welfare and college financial aid.
There’s no hard demographic data on the trend, partly because it’s hard to track people who are in the USA illegally. But school officials, real estate agents and church leaders say the movement is unmistakable.
Other reports from Arizona (and here), Oklahoma and Georgia (video) confirm that, faced with tougher state laws (and a tighter economy), illegal immigrants are choosing self deportation. For instance, a recent story in the NY Times detailed how one family was part of a mass exodus of Brazilians leaving the U.S. for their home country.
To explain an often wrenching decision to pull up stakes, homeward-bound Brazilians point to a rising fear of deportation and a slumping American economy. Many cite the expiration of driver’s licenses that can no longer be renewed under tougher rules, coupled with the steep drop in the value of the dollar against the currency of Brazil, where the economy has improved.
“You put it all together, and why should you stay in an environment like that if you have a place like Brazil, where there’s hope, a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train to run you over?” said Pedro Coelho, a businessman in Mount Vernon, N.Y., who is known as the mayor of Brazilians in Westchester County. “Are they leaving? Yes, by the hundreds.”
In Massachusetts, says Fausto da Rocha, the founder of the Boston-area Brazilian Immigrant Center, his compatriots — many here illegally — are leaving by the thousands, some after losing homes in the subprime mortgage crisis. In New York and New Jersey, travel agents and others who sell airline seats say that one-way bookings to Brazil have more than doubled since last year, to about 150 daily from Kennedy International Airport, and that flights are sold out through February.
And at Brazil’s consulate in Miami, which serves Brazilians in five Southeastern states, officials said a recent survey of moving companies and travel agencies confirmed what they had already surmised from their foot traffic: More Brazilians are leaving the region than arriving…
It would seem–contra Mr. Shuey–that a state can pass and enforce laws that makes it tougher for illegals to live in the U.S. and doesn’t that “address the underlying issues,” regardless of what the federal government does?