The seductive, yet fatal allure of anti-immigrant state legislation. Or, how YOU can save Michael Douglass

fatal-attraction.gif Remember the movie Fatal Attraction? Remember the feeling in the pit of your stomach you got from watching Glenn Close seduce her way through the plot line, while simultaneously wreaking havoc on Michael Douglass' innocent family? The whole time you have this growing fear in the pit of your stomach, you can SEE the danger coming... 

Well folks- that's how I feel when I watch certain states choose to be seduced by the allure of anti-immigrant legislation in their state legislatures. As I'm watching and reading accounts of floor debates and votes, I'm thinking to myself- oh Michael Douglass don't go down that road- you think you'll get a great payoff from her, but you'll only hurt the people you love most.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there were approximately 175 proposed pieces of legislation concerning immigration in state legislatures across the country in 2005. In 2006 that number skyrocketed to over 500. Over three-fourths of those bills were anti-immigrant.

So, why would a state want to pass incredibly harsh legislation, such as the Georgia Omnibus bill or the Colorado anti-immigrant suite of legislation (passed in a special summer session of the legislature) or the even more outrageous Oklahoma bill currently being proposed that would HURT the very communities they are trying to protect?

State legislators are choosing "strong-arm" politics over sensible legislation, and their hurting their constituents in the process. Though state legislators may think they are "sending a message to Congress", or they are "Keeping their states safe", or better yet "Protecting local workers, businesses, farms"- what they are actually doing is sowing the deadly seeds of fear and hatred in their neighborhoods, districts and regions. They're cutting off sources of economic, social and cultural growth to their states. They're marginalizing the very groups they should be encouraging and their losing out on the enormous benefits that immigration can bring to their state.

Bottomline: Yes, we are all frustrated that the federal government hasn't passed comprehensive immigration reform, but these types of laws are not the answer.

Frankly, they need to be stopped, exactly like Michael did. But they won't be stopped by us yelling at them, or trying to show them the error of their ways from a distance.

It's got to be a real debate in state legislatures and among the electorate that moves peoples minds and hearts. Advocates across the country are doing an AMAZING job of working to fight this legislation in their home states (and I think we all need to applaud their tireless efforts), BUT they need help- and WE need to help them. I may not be in Oklahoma, but I care if Oklahoma passes this bill, because their legislation will hurt them, and it could spread to other states.

A few suggestions:

-- We need more progessive journalists, writers and bloggers talking about this legislation. We've all seen the power a blogger has to raise awareness around an issue- well blogosphere, here is a cause that needs you to lift it up, shout about it, and start drawing the kind of attention to these pieces of anti-immigrant legislation that will ultimately kill them. 

-- We need more research on the negative effects of anti-immigrant legislation. You've probably heard the rumors, a town passes a piece of anti-immigrant legislation and all of a sudden it becomes a ghost town, the very infrastructure of the community has collapsed (see- Riverside, NJ). Well what about when an entire state passes anti-immigrant legislation? What are the costs? What's going on their now?

-- We need more funding for public education! Legislators are getting away with saying to their constituents, "Anti-imimgrant legislation will protect you and keep you happy." Umm, that's a lie- and we need more funding for public education efforts to allow organizations in these states to awaken the electorate.

What do you think?