Stand Up to Senate Scheme for Votes

The Mississippi Senate shamed our state Tuesday when it approved an Arizona-style anti-immigrant law that will require law enforcement to profile anyone they think could be an "illegal" immigrant and demand their papers. This means, of course, that cops would end up asking dark, exotic-looking American citizens for their papers because they might be "illegals."

Folks, this is un-American.

Not to mention, it is bad for our state's economic well-being. For one thing, these politicians are in such a hurry to out-hate Arizona (and please the Tea Party) that they make this bill the top priority and are not reading the fine print. Or they're lying about it. The truth is that even undocumented immigrants pay a variety of taxes, as do their citizen children born here. They buy stuff. They take jobs others don't want. They helped rebuild our damn Coast.

As Adam Lynch reports in his cover story this issue, the politicians aren't telling you the whole story about the economic impact of immigrants, documented or not. That doesn't serve their purpose.

What is their purpose? This is a wedge issue to divide Mississippians and to get your vote based on an emotional plea. They use half-truths and outright lies to convince you that "illegals" are a threat precisely because they believe you, especially if you're white but not only these days, will choose to distrust "the other." In order words, Mississippi, these lawmakers are counting on you allowing bigotry to trump the actual facts about immigrants that are easy to find if you bother to look somewhere other than hateful blogs and FOX News. Try it.

Of course, this little ploy—which is especially shameful because its backers will campaign on their effort whether it fails or not—is very bad for the reputation of Mississippi and for our ability to attract and keep good jobs and the professionals of all ethnicities who do not want to work amid this level of political ignorance and hateful rhetoric. And, very sadly, it will help push the smart children out of the state, much as the stupidity of decades past made many of us flee. In other words, the brain drain that helps keep Mississippi in the economic basement (which hurts all but the most privileged; ahem) just got a shot in the arm by the Mississippi Senate.

The vast majority of young people under 30 just don't think this way these days, lawmakers. And many people of all ages know that you not only just offended people of color yet again in our state; you offended every Mississippian by pretending we're a stereotypical hotbed of non-thinking bigots.

We urge Mississippians of all races to stand up to these insults of our character. Do your homework, get on the phone, pay them a visit. We need to take back our state from those who insult us for their own political gain.


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