Is The Immigration Debate Reaching A Tipping Point?

Is it possible that after all the months of immigrant bashing from the far right, after the relentless hammering at the contrived wedge issue of undocumented immigration we’ve reached a tipping point?

Several months ago, partly because of decreasing birthrates in Mexico and partly because of  a  stagnating U.S. economy, the rate of undocumented migration flowing north across the U.S.-Mexico border reached what some experts said was a net-zero – that is, as many immigrants were going north as were going south. The result was being felt in agriculture, construction, processing and service industries across the nation where there was a glut of work but a gap in workforce. Politically the relentless pounding on the immigration issue didn’t let-up, this being an election year and all. But recent developments have given us room to pause and take a close look at the momentum of the anti-immigrant movement. these items were culled from headlines published within the last few days.

  • In Jackson, Mississippi, four police and public official groups oppose the state’s immigration measure, which they worry will have an adverse impact on police and local government.
  • USA Today reports that legislators in legislators in Utah, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina “have put the brakes on immigration bills, or abandoned them altogether, as they wait to see how this election year plays out.”
  • California Attorney General Kamala Harris has joined officials from 10 other states in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Arizona’s immigration law, saying the law exceeds state authority, conflicts with national policy and would drive illegal immigrants into other states.
  • Georgia lawmakers on Tuesday stripped a provision that would have barred illegal immigrants from state colleges, universities and technical schools from a bill making its way through the state Legislature.
  • Building contractors and agriculture groups, including those representing the poultry industry and sweet-potato growers, say they’re against an immigration-enforcement bill awaiting debate in Mississippi.
  • A two-year study focusing mostly on Arizona and Texas found that “communities living along the border — particularly Latinos and individuals perceived to be of Latino origin, and indigenous communities — are disproportionately affected by a range of immigration control measures, resulting in a pattern of human rights violations,” Amnesty International said.
  • The 2005 launch of the Minuteman Project in Arizona put immigration at the forefront of American politics and sparked hundreds of groups to sprout up with similar names and missions. At the height of the movement, the number of active border-watch groups around the country exploded to 319, according to the center. However, by the end of last year, only 184 groups remained.
  • Recent survey results suggest 70 percent of Americans would support a streamlined and sensible program to allow immigrant farmworkers to legally enter the U.S. to work in agriculture.

If this isn’t a sea change in attitude towards immigrants and the immigration issue in the U.S, it sure looks like one. It’s also a good thing to keep in mind, given that the voices of conflict won’t be easily quieted. But there looks to be a crack in the seams; we’ll keep an eye on it to see if and how far it runs.

[Photo By Celso Flores]

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