Monday, May 03, 2010

Immigration in Missouri

Like Arizona? You’ll Love Missouri!

I was pleased Friday evening to see news reports about demonstrations all over the U.S. against the bigoted Arizona legislation that cannot possibly do anything but target brown-skinned people. It gave me a bit of hope to see demonstrations even in the Midwest, against the Arizona bill signed into law by their Governor Jan Brewer.

So imagine my surprise the next day to find this headline in the Springfield [Mo.] News-Leader: Could Arizona's new immigration law work in Missouri?

The story begins:

Arizona's strict new immigration law has galvanized some Missouri lawmakers to propose similar rules for the Show-Me State.
"I am going to try," said state Rep. Mark Parkinson, R.-St. Charles. "It's another tool to curb illegal immigration."
Get it? With ordinary, more-or-less “white” “mutt” Americans like me protesting all over the country … and with even such whack-job Republicans as Karl Rove saying the Arizona law is just nuts, some of Missouri’s legislators think the Arizona law is a perfect model for our fly-over state.

Now ... let's give due respect to State Rep. Parkinson. He's the genius who actually introduced a bill that our Governor be required to play $2 per paycheck in the Powerball lottery, until our state's deficit is overcome. His bill was reported by the Columbia Missourian and roundly satirized a while back on Talking Points Memo and on NPR's Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me [click on the Feb. 27 "Bluff the Listener" segment]. The guy is a buffoon.

Got it? Rep. Parkinson is an idiot and a demagogue. He loves to introduce legislation that is meaningless.

Let me take a deep breath.

I realize that I sometimes (and perhaps too often) castigate the people of Missouri and of my little city. I don’t mean to tar them with such a broad brush. I should probably clarify. There are a great many people here whom I respect and of whom I am fond. But this formerly moderate state has witnessed a take-over by ignorant, right-wing reactionaries in our cities and in our state And, yes, I use the term “ignorant” in its technical sense. Many of the civic leaders here couldn’t pass an 8th-grade exam in English or history.

On the other hand, let me hasten to add that I am very fond of many of the people I know. Not everyone in my little city or in the state is an ignorant hate-monger. The folks I know are mostly good, reasonable, and educated people. Maybe that’s because so many of them are Episcopalians! {grin} But those who have the loudest voices in my town and in this state just embarrass me.

That said, let’s turn again to the thinking of the Missouri legislature, as reported in the Springfield news story.

Missouri in 2008 approved a string of immigration measures, prohibiting illegal immigrants from receiving public benefits, forbidding public entities from hiring illegal aliens and requiring law enforcement officers to verify the legal status of anyone who has been arrested for a crime.
Republican state Rep. Parkinson says that’s just like the Arizona law.

“You have to have a reason to stop them, like our seat belt law," Parkinson said. "They can't pull you over just because you look different."
Missouri police can only ticket drivers or passengers for not wearing a seat belt if the driver is pulled over for another driving violation, such as speeding or having a burned-out headlight.
Indeed! And that’s exactly the problem. If a cop sees me with a burned-out headlight, the officer is likely to ignore it. Or s/he might stop me to give me a heads-up about the problem. The latter happened to me in Atlanta once. But will the officer then demand to see my papers? Not bloody likely!

The law in Arizona, which Rep. Parkinson wants to emulate in Missouri, would give law enforcement officers almost any reason to make a “lawful contact,” which could then let them harass a brown-skinned person.

Imagine this scenario: I’m a brown-skinned person who has been assaulted or raped in an alley. Am I likely to call 9-1-1? Not on your life! I wouldn’t want the hassle of over-zealous anti-immigrant police to add to the misery I have already suffered.

I can take some comfort in the idiot that Rep. Parkinson is. He doesn’t even care if his proposal becomes law. He just wants to propose it again and again:

[Rep. Mark Parkinson, R.-St. Charles ], vice-chair of the House international trade and immigration committee, sponsored a bill this year that would make it a felony for knowingly trafficking or harboring illegal immigrants.
Parkinson has drafted an amendment for that bill that would adopt many of the controversial provisions the Arizona governor recently signed into law.
Although Parkinson admits his bill is "going nowhere" in the final two weeks of the session, he's trying to get a discussion going now for the 2011 session. If re-elected, Parkinson said, he intends to file legislation similar to the Arizona law next year.
Who is supporting and advising Rep. Parkinson? This was a news-flash to me. Alas, it's another Missourian:

Kris Kobach, a University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor who helped Arizona write the law, also assisted Missouri lawmakers in shaping the language of the 2008 immigration law . . . .
Yes, alas, the nation can thank Missouri “law” professor Kris Kobach for helping craft the hate-mongering law in Arizona.

Lord, have mercy.

But here is the winner in the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” competition! Some people who want to clone Arizona’s draconian legislation in Missouri claim to be motivated by the “belief” (and I use that term loosely) that illegal immigrants will flee from Arizona to Missouri. It's more like a delusion. Read this!

Michael Ramon, a former U.S. Marshal who once ran for Greene County [Springfield, Mo.] sheriff, said he expects Missouri to enact the same law, should the [Arizona] law stand legal challenges and should there be an exodus of illegal aliens from Arizona to Missouri.
"Illegal aliens are talking about going to other places," Ramon said. "It encourages other places to enact the same law."
LOL!! Yeah, right! Immigrants are going to race some 1,300 miles from Arizona to Missouri. The “brown horde” is going to come racing straight from Arizona to Bumfuck, Missouri. Of course, they’ll gleefully flee from a year-round building industry to a cold climate where construction can only happen a few months of the year … from an agricultural system that works year-round, depending on hand-picking to a state where harvesting is brief and driven by giant harvesting machines. I’m sure they won’t stop in New Mexico or Texas or Oklahoma or Kansas. No! They’ve all got Missouri on their minds. Yeah, right.

WTF???

Were these Missouri legislators and “civic leaders” dropped on their heads at birth? Were there born this stupid, or did they have to work to get this stupid?

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