Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tio Tomás?

Scott Douglas, Executive Director of Greater Birmingham Ministries

Yesterday I wrote about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a voice of reason and eloquent force behind the Civil Rights Movement. And now, for something completely different . . .

Scott Douglas, executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, proclaims, “We refuse to stand by and do nothing as this immoral law undermines communities, punishes children, perpetuates hate and bigotry and, above all, goes against everything people of faith stand for."

He is talking about Alabama's House Bill 56, better known as the Alabama Immigration Law. And he is way, way off base.

I discovered Mr. Douglas on last night's Colbert Report. Stephen was delivering his usual good-natured grilling, and Douglas was cheerfully extolling the reasons Alabama's law is unjust. According to him, illegal Mexican immigrants are the modern day equivalent of Negro slaves. He says he is trying to incite the black community to rise up and help repeal the law requiring legal status to live and work in Alabama. His hyperbole included the claim that our police officers are overly engaged in immigration work and missing opportunities to prevent and solve crimes.

That is, to put it Southern-politely, hogwash.

Douglas asserts that we should not have fifty separate state immigration laws. We need a federal one. Do we not have that already?

(We do. It is simply not enforced as written.)

One of my biggest problems with this issue is just that—a refugee from Somalia or British citizen with an expired green card will certainly face deportation regardless of consequence . . . but as long as said illegal immigrant is picking crops for small money we say, "Welcome, Pedro. Have a giant dip of queso from the rich melting pot."

Apples and lettuce stay cheap, and big agricultural concerns prosper. In this aspect, Douglas is not wrong to compare migrant workers to the slaves of the nineteenth century. Except these folks are coming here voluntarily. Their children attend our finest schools free of charge. Their medical care is supplied at taxpayer expense. Some live in upscale public housing for little or no cost. Last but not least, a portion of their population seems intent on reclaiming certain parts of our country for Mexico.

(We did not see that sentiment much among African immigrants in 1848.)

Consider this: What if millions of Swiss watchmakers came to the United States illegally and settled without undergoing the citizenship process, draining resources in most of our states? What if they demonstrated, insisting we introduce their native German and French into public signage? Would we keep them here for some cool, cheap timepieces?

Of course not. Granted, it is an extreme analogy—but I am tired of people pretending we are hosting millions of illegal immigrants selectively because we are so touched by their plight. I am more touched with concern over the political refugee the INS will force onto a plane tomorrow, to return to Lord knows what kind of persecution.

There is an interesting alternative under discussion in my state.

With planting season fast approaching, farmers proposed in December that work-release inmates be put in the fields to pick crops. They are pushing the idea to state agricultural officials, arguing that workers are needed to help bring in the harvest.

That is an idea I could get behind, and am following with great interest.

I believe Alabama is on the right track with HB 56, and that Scott Douglas likes the national spotlight. A lot. However, he is no Martin Luther King, and his rhetoric is falling on deaf ears in my house.

Here is last night's interview:

Love from Delta.


  1. Makes you wonder about his financial background!

  2. Perhaps there will be insinuations and investigations . . .