Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hey Georgia, Your Peaches Are Rotting: Throughout South, Immigration Crackdown Backfires

How's that hate-y, white separatist-y thing workin' out for ya?

Turns out the Aryan master race doesn't do agricultural labor. Or framing, or sheetrocking, or roofing. Or electrical or plumbing, except, as any homeowner knows, at astronomical rates with lots of breaks and long lunches.

Southern states which enacted tough Arizona-style white supremacy laws requiring law enforcement to routinely and continuously demand citizenship documents from persons of color based solely on their race are suffering crippling backlashes as Hispanic agricultural and construction workers flee persecution.

It's what the great political satirist Will Durst might call "a Darwinian police action." Instant karma: just add racists.

In Georgia, where the law Republican Gov. Nathan Deal recently signed goes into effect July 1, the state's crops are rotting in their fields. Deals' scheme to fill 11,000 agricultural labor jobs with probationers has been a dismal failure, and the Georgia Agribusiness Council warned the industry might lose $1 billion as fruit and produce ripe for the plucking go to waste.

"Those guys out there weren't out there 30 minutes," Jermond Powell, one of Deal's probationers, said of his fellow ex-cons. "They just left, took off across the field walking."

Rotting crops are one thing, but sitting helpless amid the splintered ruins of what had once been your home is quite something else.

In Alabama, where a savage series of tornadoes wiped out much of the northern half of the state this spring, folks were discovering that construction workers were hard to come by.

"Hispanics, documented and undocumented, dominate anything to do with masonry, concrete, framing, roofing and landscaping,"  Bob McNelly of Nash-McCraw Properties complained. "There are very few subcontractors I work with that don't have a Hispanic workforce."

Republican Gov. Robert Bentley arrogantly signed Alabama's white supremacy measure into law June 9, boasting it was the toughest in the nation. He and his white separatist cohort probably hadn't counted on it being toughest on the state's white residents. Alabama's law goes beyond constantly hassling persons of color for their long-form birth certificates. Alabama's law prohibits anyone transporting, or renting to undocumented persons, and even prohibits undocumented children from enrolling in schools. That'll teach 'em. Or not teach 'em.

As though the state's omniscient Neo-Confederates, white separatists, Ku Klux Klanners and evangelical supremacists home-schooled on hate and misinterpretations of the Bible would ever deign to attend the newly ethnically-cleansed public classrooms anyway.

Talk about instant karma: Bentley's home town of Tuscaloosa was among the hardest hit this spring. A fair-sized twister plowed through the middle of town, trashing some 7,200 homes and businesses and killing 43.

Now, with Hispanic workers fleeing the white supremacist crackdown set to take effect September 1, the townsfolk are left holding their Makitas.

"Tuscaloosa will feel it," said undocumented construction worker Miguel Ramirez. "The talk in our community is that people are packing their things."

"They're leaving," said Dorothy McDade of the Holy Spirit Catholic Church, which saw it's Spanish language collection plate triple over the past decade before crashing in recent weeks. "Anybody with family in another state is going to go."

Whenever an earthquake hits California or a hurricane rolls through Florida, folks around the Red neck of the woods are keen to claim God is punishing those places for supporting the LGBTG community or some such. Wonder what God's punishing Alabama and Georgia for.

In South Carolina, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, anxious to get into the spanking line, signed her state's white supremacy measure into law Monday. Better watch out: hurricane season is just around the corner.

In Mississippi, another Republican governor named Haley, this one Barbour, had the advantage of experience in dealing with a state smashed to bits by natural selection.

"I don't know where we would have been in Mississippi after Katrina if it hadn't been for the Spanish speakers that came in to help rebuild," said Barbour, who hadn't yet signed his state's white supremacy law.

Where Mississippi would have been is where Alabama is now, cartographic contortions notwithstanding.

When Bentley signed Alabama's white supremacy law, State Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale) crowed,  "This will put thousands of Alabamians back in the workforce."

Or, they could just stay parked in front of their TV sets, collecting disability checks, swilling beer, and screaming about President Barack Obama and other persons of color destroying America. Unless God destroyed their homes, in which case they'd stay parked in front of their emergency shelter's TV set, collecting disability checks, swilling beer, and screaming about President Barack Obama and other persons of color destroying America.

"There are plenty of people capable of working, " said Rich Cooper of Bell Construction. "If they'd just get off their butts and do it." C'mon Rich, most folks haven't slung stacks of asphalt roofing shingles over their shoulders and climbed up twenty-foot ladders in 90+ degree heat in generations.

Among those able to work, Alabama's May unemployment rate was 9.6%. Sshhh... Bill O'Reilly is on Fox.

"We have a real problem with illegal immigration in this country," Deal had said. Spot on. Too few immigrants. Crops rotting in fields. Whole towns levelled with no one to rebuild them. What happens to a nation when it can't feed or shelter itself?

McNelly said of the Hispanic labor force, " It's not the pay rate. It's the fact that they work harder than anyone. It's the work ethic."

Sounds exactly like the kind of folks you'd want in your country.

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