Get ready for higher produce, labor prices, thanks to Legislature
“Anyone who eats has a vested interest in immigration policy.”
That’s what one wise local farmer told us, adding that the entire current system is “making liars out of good people.” He repeated the oft-cited claim that there is no way Americans will do the backbreaking work needed for harvest, but our immigrant friends will.
A recent Pew Research poll said that many undocumented immigrants are looking for greener pastures where they won’t face potential deportation for the “crime” of trying to make a living. When we want our grapes, peaches and other Texas crops harvested, we may find ourselves short-handed and the cost of these crops rising with the cost of the labor.
The agricultural angle is hardly the only concern with Senate Bill 4, or the “Sanctuary Cities” bill, passed this session. A similar bill in Arizona has been tied up in the courts and Texas’ effort is very similar to that “show me your papers” bill.
Law enforcement agencies also derided the bill, as it asks them to do the work of what should be federal law enforcement. It also forces them to “narc” on otherwise peaceful immigrant citizens, or even Mexican-American citizens, who otherwise may not have the correct paperwork. This bill will inevitably invite more lawsuits against local law enforcement.
Business leaders derided the bill as anti-immigrant. Fortune Magazine stated that 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were created by immigrants. Business leaders realize the advantages of taking in people who fill a demand, but also bring an entrepreneurial spirit.
We still need common sense immigration reform at the federal level, including an improved guest worker program. That’s a federal issue, but our state leaders don’t help with policies like this.
Our statehouse leaders would have us believe we need to spend hundreds of millions of additional dollars at the border, impose on local law enforcement everywhere and make rules that will most certainly affect the civil rights of a large and growing part of our population.
The 85th Legislature came to a close with near blows on Monday on the House floor over this bill. Members of the Freedom Caucus called in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement for brown-skinned citizens trying to voice their opposition to this bill. (Our state representative wisely stayed out of the fracas, but supported the bill, as did our state senator.)
It was an ugly scene. The episode’s aftermath brought out the worst in social media commentary, referring to our state officials of Latino descent as “beaners,” “spics” and more.
SB4, and the bathroom bill (a solution in search of a problem), which may spark a special session, are tarnishing the image of Texas — the brand, if you will — as a welcoming, tolerant place. And more unintended consequences will be on the way.
We’ll pay for all of these poor choices in every way, from Texas losing business and events, to tarnishing a proud and multicultural state image, to more pricey options on our plates.