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New Arizona immigration bill comes at a cost to the state

Maria Saporta

By Maria Saporta

Despite claims by some legislators in Phoenix, the majority of Latinos Arizona do not support the stringent new immigration bill that recently was signed into to law by Gov. Jan Brewer.

“That’s a bald-faced lie,” said Daniel Ortega, chairman of the National Council of LaRaza and a leading critic against the new bill. “I challenge any one to show me those statistics that the Latino community supported this measure.”

Ortega was speaking Friday morning to the LINK delegation of Atlanta leaders meeting in Phoenix. It was an equal time moment, because Thursday morning, one of the sponsors of the new bill, Russell Pearce, had made a passionate case in favor of the new immigration law.

Daniel Ortega criticizes Arizona immigration bill in talk to Atlanta LINK group

Daniel Ortega criticizes Arizona immigration bill in talk to Atlanta LINK group

The two men were supposed to have been on the stage together, but car trouble prevented Ortega from being able to arrive in time on Thursday morning.

Ortega said it was important to be careful in “what we say and how we say it” when having the great immigration discussion.

“There’s no debate that our current immigration system is broken,” Ortega said. “We have to commit to having a debate to fix this system, and we can not fix it with hate or dehumanization.”

Georgia Trend's Ben Young interviews Daniel Ortega on LINK trip

Georgia Trend's Ben Young interviews Daniel Ortega on LINK trip

Instead, Ortega said one must recognize that the “current system clearly does not fulfill the need that this country has for labor.”

If there are available jobs, the immigrants will come. And those jobs will increase because there’s a declining workforce with more people leaving the workforce than there are entering the workforce, he said.

Unfortunately, Ortega said that Arizona has become the “epicenter” and “ground zero” of the debate of undocumented immigrants.

And Ortega said the issue has exploded in Arizona because “the federal government has failed us all.” Because the country has not implemented immigration reform, giving existing residents a path to citizenship, the system is broken.

Clayton Chair Eldrin Bell makes a comment at session with Daniel Ortega

Clayton Chair Eldrin Bell makes a comment at session with Daniel Ortega

In some areas, Ortega and Pearce agree. “We’ve got to get rid of the criminal element,” Ortega said. “We have to have employer sanctions” if they hire illegal immigrants.

But the solution is not subjecting one group — Latinos — to extra scrutiny because that only will invite racial profiling, Ortega said.

Asked about the economic impact of the bill, Ortega said the fallout has only just begun. There will be more boycotts and more cancelations of conventions and visitors coming to Arizona.

“We clearly are the laughing stock of the nation,” Ortega said, adding that it also will impact whether companies invest in the state. “The first we have to do is find a way to defeat this law.”

Ortega said he already is joining in a legal effort to challenge the bill and “the courts hopefully will take care of it.”

But it will take a long time to get rid of all the jokes and erase the economic damage the bill has caused the state. But that can be minimized if the implementation of the law is stopped, Ortega said.

Arizona native and public policy expert, Grady Gammage, said that controversies like the immigration bill are not new for Arizona. It was the last state to implement a state holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr., and it just passed a bill that any one running for president must be able to present his or her birth certificate before their name can be included on the Arizona ballot. The immigration bill is just more of the same.

“We have a penchant for shooting ourselves in the head,” Gammage said. “Every few years, we have to look like the stupidest people in the United States. I’m very concerned that this is giving the United States a chance to turn Arizona into a whipping boy.”

The point seemed to hit home for the Atlanta leaders visiting Phoenix.

During the closing exercises of the LINK program, a consistent theme was that state leaders must be careful to guard against similar actions in Georgia. Instead, metro Atlanta and Georgia are known for being inclusive and tolerant of different races and ethnic groups.

At a minimum, the metro Atlanta leaders recognized that there’s an economic cost to passing laws that discriminate against any group of people living in our state.

Maria Saporta
Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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    “During the closing exercises of the LINK program, a consistent theme was that state leaders must be careful to guard against similar actions in Georgia. Instead, metro Atlanta and Georgia are known for being inclusive and tolerant of different races and ethnic groups.”

    “At a minimum, the metro Atlanta leaders recognized that there’s an economic cost to passing laws that discriminate against any group of people living in our state.”

    I don’t know about that one, Maria. Georgia has seen more than its own fair share of not very well thought through and poorly written shortsighted laws through the years. Remember the state law that was pressed by Governor Sonny Perdue a few years ago that was to take effect where every person thought to be from outside of the U.S. who was stopped by local police was to be automatically detained for no less than 24 hours while their legal status was to be checked with the feds?

    Remember the county in Southeast Georgia, somewhere around or near Brunswick off the I-95, that wanted to get a jump on enforcing the law before it actually took effect and detained a Canadian woman from Ottawa, Canada who was enroute to Florida for some kind of graduation for briefly speeding at 55 mph in a 35 mph zone right after immediately exiting off of the I-95 outside Brunswick, even though she had her driver’s license as identification, about three or four months before the law was to take effect? Remember the international incident this action nearly caused with Canada and how the state of Georgia was portrayed as being a bunch of backwoods good-ol-boy “Deliverance” types by the woman’s family, the Canadian and the international media, for enacting and enforcing that type of law that required local police and sheriff’s departments to detain foreign visitors after every police-initated contact even if the person had identification and was legally in the country and the offense wasn’t of a serious or purely criminal nature? Remember how the law never went into effect after that embarrassing international incident and just seemingly mysteriously disappeared into thin air after Georgia was portrayed as an international laughingstock?

    As further proof look no further than the Georgia Republican Gubernatorial Primary where one of the candidates, the perennially exceptionally ethically-challenged U.S. Representative Nathan Deal, who has been repeatedly judged to be one of the most, if not the most, corrupt member(s) of the U.S. House of Representatives, has proposed enacting into law in Georgia a carbon-copy of the controversial and budget-busting Arizona Immigration Law if he is elected Georgia’s next governor. Just one look at the economic carnage that is occuring in Arizona would tell me that is a path that I do not want to even consider, much less emulate action-for-action! Congressman Deal wants to lead Georgia down the same exact path of bank account-busting ignorance and stupidity, which speaks volumes about the collective level of intelligence of Deal and the constituency he is blatantly pandering to for easy votes.

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    professional skeptic May 2, 2010 6:10 pm

    This is what happens when the general population of a state allows a few kooks, clowns and knuckleheads to gain control of state government. I hope Georgia’s voters are taking note.

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    “This is what happens when the general population of a state allows a few kooks, clowns and knuckleheads to gain control of state government. I hope Georgia’s voters are taking note.”

    Comment by professional skeptic — May 2, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

    Professional skeptic: I’m afraid that many Georgia voters are taking note…I’m afraid that they’re taking note and saying “I’ll have what Arizona’s having!”

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    Yr1215 May 3, 2010 12:45 pm

    Maybe a publicity cost. David Frum, a commentator criticized by both the left and the right, does not appear to agree.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/05/03/frum.immigration.education/index.html?hpt=C2

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    Why didnt the State of Arizona just expand the 287(g) program statewide and deport every illegal who is admitted into local jails instead of “cooking up” (no pun intended) and passing legislation that appears to target all immigrants, leaves the state open to numerous expensive legal challenges, gives the state a bad image in the court of public opinion and cost the state much-needed tourism and convention dollars? Expanding the 287(g) program to cover every jail in the state of Arizona may come at a significant cost of its own, but it would leave the state’s international image and tourism and convention industry intact and deal with the most pressing side effect of illegal immigration much quicker, which is getting the troublemakers, the violent and criminal illegal aliens responsible for much crime off the streets in a timely fashion.

    It’s not rocket science, it’s a pretty simple concept under 287(g). Go to jail, get your legal status checked upon entry to the jail and get handed over to the Feds for deportation if your not legal. It’s a very effective way to deal with the illegals who are causing the most trouble that entails some cost of its own, but much less cost than the political grandstanding that comes with the current “bang your head against the wall until you lose consciousness approach” that the Arizona Legislature who thinks that they’re sending a message to illegals not to enter Arizona unless they want to face consequences, but you know what? If they’re already illegal, they don’t probably care and the worst most violent hardened criminal illegal aliens most likely have no fear at all of the new law. I can just picture some really hardened criminal illegal alien whose likely committed violent assaults up to manslaughter and murder and has been deported several times being worried about the new Arizona law. The best way to deal with the worst of the troublemakers is to deport them after they’ve been brought to jail and then militarize the border so that they can’t get back into the country (Feds, feel free to join in, anybody getting any ideas at the Federal level?), not thumping your chest with unthoughtful, shortsighted and flawed legislation that damages your state’s public image, leaves your state and local governments wide open to costly legal challenges and alienates the legal and non-violent immigrant population so that they’re completely unwilling to cooperate with the police thereby possibly making crime even worse.

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    Yr 1215, I viewed the article you posted and would make alot more since to have a much more orderly immigration system that attracts and gives priority to immigrants with higher education to enter the country. But I get the distinct feeling that the powers that be don’t want an orderly immigration system that consistently gives priority to the best and brighted to enter. The powers-that-be want as many uneducated immigrants as possible so that they can have an unlimited supply of dirt cheap and easy labor so that they can maximize their profits. That’s why we see so much disorder and wildness down on the Southern border. There’s a definite method to the madness!

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    harri May 26, 2010 4:08 am

    leticia olalia morales of 15501 pasadena ave #8 tustin ca 92780 submitted fake employment records to obtain a US work visa. she also used fake documents and paid $5000.00 for a US tourist visa. she is now applying for citizenship.

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    Familia August 2, 2010 12:52 am

    Somos una familia interesada en una cita y quisieramos el numero para consultas del abogado Daniel Ortega

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