I Grew Up There

10.09.06 | 5 Comments

I generally try to keep things light-hearted around here, but I find myself taking on serious subjects more often these days. I’ll have to find something else to balance it out. But in the meantime, consider this AP article from mid-September titled Immigration Raid Cripples Georgia Town. The article is very sympathetic toward the poor immigrants who were just trying make a living, with quotes from store owners likening the federal action to Gestapo techniques. No, I’m not kidding. However, there’s one bit of “meat” at the very bottom of the article that puts the rest of the story in perspective.

The poultry plant has limped along with half its normal workforce. Crider increased its starting wages by $1 an hour to help recruit new workers.

Stacie Bell, 23, started work canning chicken at Crider a week ago. She said the pay, $7.75 an hour, led her to leave her $5.60-an-hour job as a Wal-Mart cashier in nearby Statesboro.

No kidding? Really? You mean, if companies can’t exploit illegal labor then they raise wages for Americans?

Now I didn’t grow up in Georgia, but I grew up in this town. Like the town described in the article, the rural community I came from also has a large poultry industry and also employs hundreds of illegal immigrants for labor. It’s a win-win for the company and for the labor. The poultry industry pays less than they’d pay legal labor, while the illegals earn much more than back home. Did I say win-win? There is one loser. The community. Remeber the mayor’s quote from the article “We’re poor but we’re proud”? The flood of illegal immigrants is strangling my hometown. I know some elementary school teachers who claim that 80% of their classrooms are filled with children of illegal immigrants. Extra children flood the schools, extra crime strains law enforcement, the local hospital treats extra patients who can never pay, and social services are simply overwhelmed. Where are the taxes that support those services? When I say the community is being strangled, I mean it. The money that might have gone to improve schools or roads is being spent just to keep up with wear and tear. My county, my hometown, is on a downward spiral. The best thing that could happen would be for the poultry industry to pull out. Like the town in Georgia, it would be a huge blow to the economy and cause hardship for many chicken growers. Yet eventually the ecomomy, and the community, would recover. Without a change, the county is going to grow poorer and poorer until it flattens under the economic weight of the services it provides.

I don’t blame poor people who want to make lives for themselves and their families. There, but for the grace of God, go I. But like too many people clinging to a liferaft, they endanger all.

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Comment by Kyle
2006-10-09 11:19:04

Amen. That was a concise and dead-on summation of what’s happening all over.

I especially like the phrasing you used there, about how a county will eventually crush itself under the weight of the benefits it provides. No truer statement has ever been made. That’s true in the macrocosm as well as the micro.

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Comment by Neal5x5
2006-10-10 14:19:44

While I feel for the town, I can’t help but think that they had a foundation built on sand. An economy built on a population that is intrinsically transient isn’t one that can be sustained.

I’d be very interested to see if the town and county was income positive/negative when it came to federal funds. I may be mistaken, but my impression is that the those areas that have high illegal immigrant populations usually must be subsidized by funding from outside area. The mayor should have mentioned that her town is being paid for by others before she complained about federal enforcement of the law.

As for illegal immigration in general, it’s not a hot-button topic for me, but I do firmly believe in paying your own damn way. If we could effectively tax those here illegally (or even legally), I’d be a lot more accepting of some kind of compromise.

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Comment by DirtyUnicorn
2006-10-12 00:17:30

Immigration is a tough issue for me. On one hand you hit the nail right on the head – it will bog our economy and eventually destroy it like weeds in a garden. On the other hand our country was built from the melting pot (well that and killing the previous owners, but that’s for another topic)

Ultimately even though I’d love to be the warm and fuzzy, peace loving Democrat that I pretend to be (my voters card says so anyways) I really have to side with wayyy tighter control of our borders. Even more than that we NEED a huge increase in federally funded immigration control. We need field investigators and enforcers out there doing surprise inspections of places like these and deporting people. It sucks, but it needs to be done.

Of course our government doesn’t like to spend money on programs that… you know… actually have to do with the country itself. Who has time to worry about health care or social security when theres a war going on?

You know I just keep thinking that the real victems in this tragedy are… the chickens… I mean what are they getting out of all of this? Ba-kaaaw!

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Comment by Jerry
2006-10-17 14:14:55

It’s all been said above. Ditto!!!

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2007-09-27 16:53:24

[…] here and explain to me just where these 2,000 idiots came from.  Yes, I have written of my own first-hand knowledge about illegal immigration in the past. I understand that racial profiling is a hot button for some people, but let’s […]

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