In a recent post titled “The Degrees of Immigrant Bashing,” I described various ways in which the recession has led to increased anti-immigrant hostility, leading to blatantly offensive comments from public officials, acts of violence and hate crimes, and misguided federal regulations. As a follow up, blogger Michelle Waslin at Immigration Impact writes that, perhaps ironically, the recession seems to have resulted in fewer anti-immigrant proposals and legislation being passed this year at the local and state levels:
According to the Progressive States Network (PSN), budget deficits have meant that states are unwilling to pass legislation with a cost attached. Immigration is less of a wedge issue in 2009—that is, politicians seem less willing to push anti-immigrant platforms because candidates who did so in the 2008 elections lost.
PSN also reports that anti-immigrant legislators have been marginalized in 2009. Bills introduced by Texas State Rep. Leo Berman, a notorious anti-immigrant voice, got no traction, even from within his own party. No votes were taken on any of his 9 anti-immigrant bills. In Arizona, State Senator Russell Pearce has had little success with his anti-immigrant agenda this year. An Arizona Republic editorial criticized Pearce for devoting time and energy to immigrant-bashing instead of doing the real work that needs to be done on the state budget. Even Prince William County, Virginia Executive Corey Stewart—well known for his anti-immigrant rhetoric—has backed down, acknowledging that problems other than immigration deserve more attention. . . .
It is clear that vehement anti-immigrant legislation is not as fashionable as in past years. These measures have proven to be too expensive and ineffective, Americans care more about real solutions than scapegoating and rhetoric, and anti-immigrant politicians have not been successful on election day.
It’s encouraging to see that most politicians (apparently on both sides of the ideological divide) recognize that indeed, there are many more important issues these days than demonizing and dehumanizing immigrants, legal and undocumented. I also believe that many of them also understand that in this current recession, immigrants — again legal or undocumented — can make significant contributions to the American economy if given the chance.
That is, while many immigrants are disproportionately affected by these tough economic times, if they’re allowed to stay in the U.S., many are more than willing spend their income to help support local businesses, pay federal income and social security taxes, and state sales and gas taxes, to name just a few examples. This is especially true in immigrant-heavy states and cities such as California and Texas, that are being hit especially hard during the recession.
In other words, at a time when our country is struggling, we need everybody to pitch in and help out, regardless of their race, ethnicity, skin color, or immigrant status.