Opinion – 4/21/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 21, 2006

The Panolian: OPINIONS – Billy Davis

From the 4/21/06 issue of The Panolian :                 

Immigrant dilemma really about jobs

Debate over illegal immigration recently became the topic of the month, spurred by movements in Congress to define or redefine illegal immigration, then act on the old or new definition.

The talking points on the right pounded at our porous southern border and the U.S. government’s reluctance to enforce our immigration laws.

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On the left, a shame-on-you chorus rang out from street demonstrations and anchor desks, demonizing anyone who would deny the American dream to Hispanic immigrants, most of them Mexicans.

But the current immigration debate is really about the job market, which is a much broader topic than whether Eduardo the bricklayer should have the right to live and work here illegally.

The more important question is whether bricklayers Eduardo and Ricardo, and 12 million more illegal immigrants, are taking jobs away from bricklayers Eddie and Arnold, and 300 million Americans.

It takes a small dose of math and common sense to realize only a certain number of good-paying jobs are available, most of which seem to be disappearing from our industrial parks for a one-way trip to China and Mexico. As those jobs dry up, Eddie and Arnold will be joined by plant workers Johnny and Jerry, who are willing to lay tile, pick up a nail gun or drive a skid steer when the assembly line shuts down.

To compound the job problem, some contractor on a job site will likely hire Eduardo or Ricardo, who will work more hours for less money, won’t ask off for a three-day vacation, and won’t call in sick with a sore back.

Now consider that, when unemployed Eddie, Arnold, Johnny and Jerry watch Katie Couric deliver the evening news, they will see oozing sympathy for Eduardo and Ricardo while the unemployed Americans are deemed racists and bigots for demanding that the illegals be arrested and deported.

In a news soundbite from the White House, the President informs Eddie, Arnold, Johnny and Jerry that the jobs they were denied are jobs they really don’t want.

How do you say "powder keg" in Spanish?

Meanwhile, Panola County is one of 82 counties in Mississippi and one of 3,086 counties and parishes across the United States, and each is fighting to keep industries operating in their industrial parks.

A decade from today, the flight of low-tech jobs to China could be history in Panola County if high-tech, better-paying jobs – in the South, that’s automotive plants – take their place.

Or, a decade from now, all of us could be working for Wal-Mart. If we keep heading down this road, you and I may have to learn to say, "I need to see your receipt," in Spanish.

More than a decade ago big-eared billionaire Ross Perot predicted a "giant sucking sound" of jobs leaving America. We don’t need to look at one of his charts to know he was right – just talk to your laid-off neighbor for a first-hand account.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t watch the evening news.


(Billy Davis can be reached billyd@panolian.com or by writing to P. O. Box 1616, Batesville, MS 38696.) 


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