Tomorrow's op-ed page features this Trudy Rubin column about how, in tough economic times, xenophobia and scapegoating of "the other" tends to rise. She speaks of the synagogue trashed in Caracas, similar incidents in Argentina, the Vatican's recent mess with the reinstated archbishop, etc.
And just in passing, there is a mention of a type of scapegoating we have seen in this country:
Well, yes and no, in terms of the direct correlation to the economy. We saw the rise of resentment of illegals peak BEFORE the economy's recent southward trend. And in fact, one has heard a lot less about it recently than one heard back before John McCain became the GOP nominee (except, of course, from the kind of GOP voter who said they would not vote for him, not no way, not nohow).
Of course, there are some here in SC who would attribute the quieting of the anti-illegal lobby to the terrific job they say they're doing. I just got this release today from S.C. Senate Republicans:
Federal Government May Not Reauthorize E-Verify Program
Columbia, SC – February 17, 2009 – South Carolina’s State Senators are taking action and asking the United States Congress to reauthorize a federal program that is presently allowing the state to crack down on illegal immigration. State Senator Larry Martin (R-Pickens) today introduced a resolution urging Congress to reauthorize the E-Verify program.
E-Verify is an Internet based program run by the Department of Homeland Security, which allows for the instantaneous verification of an employee’s residency status.
After an outcry from businesses, workers, and taxpayers across the state, the South Carolina General Assembly last year passed the nation’s toughest illegal immigration laws. Using the federal government’s E-Verify program, South Carolina’s new laws give the state the ability to punish those who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. Unfortunately, South Carolina’s laws could lose their teeth and be severely weakened if Congress does not reauthorize E-Verify.
Senator Larry Martin says the affect on South Carolina’s economy could be devastating. “We now have the third highest unemployment rate in the nation due to this harsh economic environment. Our new law has stopped the influx of undocumented workers in South Carolina. We need to ensure that every available job in the state is being filled by a legal United States resident.”
Martin continued, “E-Verify is the most cost-effective, secure, and reliable tool for businesses to verify the residency status of their employees. I can not urge Congress enough to reauthorize this vital program.”
So basically, he's saying we've got to keep out the illegals to protect our jobs. To which I say, what jobs? The period during which he's saying SC's done a great job of keeping out illegals (which remains to be seen, but let's play along) is a period in which unemployment in SC has soared.
Here's a clue, folks: You know what's more likely than anything else to keep out illegals? The continued decline of our economy, that's what. When there aren't jobs to be had, they're going to stay away. But is that what we want?
Think about it: Would you rather have high unemployment and keep the illegals out, or low unemployment but with illegals here? I'm sure the choice before us is not a pure question of either-or, but a basic understanding of supply and demand would suggest that there is a high correlation…