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Why Georgia’s new immigration law is unjust

By Parthiv N. Parekh Email By Parthiv N. Parekh
July 2011
Why Georgia’s new immigration law is unjust

“What part of ‘ILLEGAL’ don’t you understand?”

This question is a staple sound bite used by those who feel that the sanctity of law is being compromised when illegal aliens are allowed to exist with impunity amongst us. This seemingly legitimate concern is often co-opted by hate mongers who have hijacked immigration reform to shrill anti-immigration activism—giving rise to dubious laws such as Georgia’s recently passed House Bill 87.

This constitutionally questionable law, which Governor Deal signed recently, and which went into effect this month, has measures that will aggravate, alienate, and antagonize undocumented immigrants while also imposing burdensome compliance requirements on Georgia’s businesses (See “Living with HB 87” in this issue.) And yet, it will do spectacularly nothing to resolve the issue at a fundamental level.

On the face of it, proponents of HB 87 seem to have a point. After all these aliens did sneak into the country illegally, didn’t they? Wouldn’t letting them live and operate freely amongst us amount to a mockery of the law of the land?

However, lost in the heavy fog of their incredulity against this sub-class of migrants is the fact that we—the people of the United States—are equally complicit in their illegal status. Over the past couple of decades it is we who have not only condoned them but practically sought them out for their vital role in our economy. Seduced by their cheap labor, we had implicitly laid out the welcome mat for them.

Unlike Mafia dons, these workers were not underground operatives; they were plainly visible all around us. Notwithstanding the token outbursts against them, we continued to condone them, employ them, and enjoyed the fruits of their labor. Americans didn’t refuse to buy the tens of thousands of new houses during the housing boom, knowing fully well they were built largely by these workers. We didn’t boycott the farming industry and refused to buy produce, knowing fully well that it was these folks who plucked the onions and oranges found in our kitchens.

In boom times, businesses sanctioned them; consumers sanctioned them; lawmakers sanctioned them. To cry foul now—after millions of them have been living here for a decade or two, and have set up homes and raised children—is profoundly ungrateful and wrong. Worse it amounts to entrapment.

Over 12 million undocumented immigrants can come into a country, move into its communities, set up homes, and live and work amongst the citizens only if the host country is complicit in the act. So, to now ask sanctimoniously, “What part of ILLEGAL don’t you understand?” is cluelessness if not hypocrisy.

It is from this standpoint that HB 87 is mean-spirited, unjust, un-American, and an anathema to the Christian values of the nation.

Only those efforts that address the legitimate acceptance and acclimation of those illegal aliens who are already here, while preventing further infiltration through secured borders and other means, can lay a claim to a genuine solution to the problem. And HB 87 is simply not conceived or equipped to do so.

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