Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Immigration Round 2

Special Note: The picture of the flags on the post below is a shot of the flags hoisted by Hispanic demonstrators in California. Notice that it is a Mexican flag flown above an upside down American flag.

I travel around the state a lot - probably around 60,000 miles per year - in my business. Let me be clear that the opinions I have on immigration are formulated from hearing what a lot of folks are saying in a lot of different areas about illegal immigration. Most South Carolinians, from what I ascertain, want and expect the Legislature to began working on the illegal immigration issue here in South Carolina. They are not sure what we can do, but they do expect us to begin doing something. I don't really know what we can effectively do, either, but I want to see the debate begin.

The House passed three immigration bills, with the main focus on a study committee process. I refiled these bills in May as one bill, since the Senate is insisting on S392 and not taking up the House's bills. House Judiciary is not taking up S392 since we have already passed the three House bills. I had hoped to recall S392 in order to amend that bill to this version of three and keep the debate alive. That is the reasoning behind my thwarted efforts to recall S392.

I commend Senator Graham for having the statesmanship to tackle controversial issues such as this. I think he needs to take this one step at a time, though, and secure the borders first - I mean, it is already the law in the United States that we are not enforcing - and then we can tackle the other issues. But maybe that is too simple.

My apologies go to the agriculture community and the manufacturing community if I unfairly singled them out in the last post. Most importantly to Farm Bureau and to the SC Chamber of Commerce. These groups represent a constituency, too, and do a GREAT job advocating for them. It was not a shot at them or even a shot across the bow - I simply stated that in contrast to what I am hearing out of these camps - "the majority of citizens in this state want to see us tackle the immigration issue. And we can do a few small things to make the environment less attractive to illegals...."

Now, I realize that most folks do not differentiate between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants, legal workers and legalized citizens. I further realize that even legal immigrants will only tolerate harassment for so long before they leave for more hospitable environments. We don't need that, nor can our economy afford that.

I also know that industries such as agriculture, horticulture, home building and construction, along with the hospitality industry have trouble getting and keeping folks to do the necessary work.

This issue is on the minds of a lot of folks. My opinions here and in the previous post are meant to help us think through the issues at hand and begin the healthy debate.

If it needs to be only addressed at the Federal level and cannot be effectively dealt with at the state level, so be it. Just make sure that some of the money collected from the immigrants under the bill currently being debated in Congress comes back to the states to make up for the money we spend on services we have provided here.