I am dismayed to see how the GOP is imploding in the recent candidate debates. It is the most interesting development in politics that I can remember. The wide variance among the four candidates is amazing, from this healthcare issue to Gingrich’s absurd pledge to place a permanent colony on the moon just to placate the Space Coast electorate. And while he blatantly panders to aerospace workers in Florida, and even while he and the other candidates seek hispanic support, the far more important national issue of immigration reform festers.
Just adjacent to Florida in the state of Alabama there is a financial crisis unfolding because both state and federal conservative lawmakers have failed to deal with the vital immigration issue. Columnist Raul Reyes laid it out in a USA Today column. About six months ago Alabama enacted an exceedingly strict immigration law. The results were predictable, as I have previously posted. Immigrants have fled the state leaving nobody who, despite high unemployment, is willing to do the stoop labor in harvesting crops. The state now finds it has gained a reputation for being unfriendly to all foreigners, including investors and business people, and regular residents are encountering confusing red tape because of new strict citizenship requirements for licenses.
But that’s not the worst of it. The real impact is becoming clear – it is the loss of a productive economic base represented by all those immigrants, people who not only picked the crops, made the beds, mopped the floors and waited on tables, but who patronized businesses, bought medicine, laid the bricks, and sent their kids to the schools. There is now, consequently, real financial pain throughout the state. Alabama lawmakers are vowing to revise the law, but how they will do that isn’t clear yet.
What we are seeing, I submit, is reality setting in after demagogues had their way. I blame the Tea Party idealists, the same who made John McCain revise his previously sane stance on immigration four years ago. The voters in Florida should be paying attention to Alabama’s plight, but I doubt they are. I’m sure the GOP candidates aren’t. They are too busy shooting for the moon while the crops rot in the fields.