Thursday, August 14, 2008

Perception is right, more HIspanics are here in SC

Not too long ago a friend told me about his home in Saluda County. He remarked, "the last American out get the flag."

While that remark seems funny to some and downright racist to others, recent media reports indicate that South Carolina is the leading place for new Hispanics to come and work. Legal or illegal, more and more of our neighbors to the south are choosing to make South Carolina their new home.

That influx of new people puts pressure on government infrastructure at it most basic levels. Public safety agencies are now compelled to hire someone to translate. Local government resources funded by citizens paying things like property taxes are stretched thin by sudden, unaccountable increases in population.

And, there is the immigrant side. Sure, there is something to honor about people who want to make all efforts to make their lives better. However, businesses that hire them at wages below the legal wage benefit while those who compete by the rules suffer. Those businesses who cheat seem to have real political clout and can make lawmakers at both the state and federal levels water down any serious immigration reform.

Of course there are some political leaders, who like me, have a sincere desire to avoid punishing people who simply want to make their lives better and work towards that. After all, that is the heart of conservatism. Yet, there seems to be more political leaders who are more than willing to turn a blind eye to the business interests of contributors who exploit immigrant labor and the cheap cost it is.

That is why I support an immigration plan that will probably never get through either the South Carolina General Assembly or the United States Congress. I think those folks who come here to work should not be punished, period. However, individuals and businesses who knowingly hire illegal workers should be punished and given mandatory jail time.

The reason for that? It is simple. The person or business who knowingly hires illegals and exploits their status not only cheats his competitors, but takes advantage of people who are simply trying to make their lives better. It is incredible to me that such powerful legislation is not embraced by both conservatives, who seem to want to stub the growth of immigrants, and by liberals, who seem to want basic human rights for all.

The only thing I can think of that would keep us from such true reform with teeth is money. It is the money made off of the backs of illegals that goes to people who fund candidates against immigration reform on the Right and Left. Politicians on the Right and Left give different reasons for opposing real reform, but in the end, I believe it all comes down to money. A Right leaning candidate or group can not get paid without business backing them. A Left leaning candidate or group can not get money without moaning about the human issues of immigration.

It does not do much for Paco who gets a share of the minimum wage for working in the fields or working cleaning up the factory, but the money thrown around in immigration politics does influence policy. Since South Carolina is now number one in the Influx of Hispanics, we all ought to care how our leaders deal with that and how we as a people treat our visiting neighbors and ourselves. Embrace real reform now!

1 comment:

  1. The problems are nation-wide, not just restricted to South Carolina.