A Racist for Governor? Part II
Originally published 09/23/03. To view the context in which this article was originally published click here.
This article was cited in the first paragraph of the following article, along with the opinions of Debra Sanders who has a column titled Townhall; Republican State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth; the director of MALDEF, Francisco Estrada; and Democratic State Senator John Burton. I was happy to make a contribution to the digital media.
The issue is bigger than Arnold. Are illegal immigrants an economic burden to the state or not? The debate surrounding proposition 187 revolved around this question, and support for the proposition was based on the view that they are. The same view is being expressed in the argument against SB 60, which Arnold Schwarzenegger has promised to rescind if elected governor.
Among the arguments for SB 60 are that it will make the roads safer, and allow illegal immigrants to buy car insurance which will in turn lower rates for everyone. There is also the Peter Camejo response during the first gubernatorial debate: They’ve been here 20,000 years. The Europeans are immigrants.
The main argument against SB 60 is that the state of California would be rewarding illegal immigration. This is a logical argument if one views illegal immigrants as an economic burden to the state. But it is an illogical argument, and one that recalls Marie Antoinette, if one recognizes the contributions which illegal immigrants make to the economy of California.
In my previous article I cited the example of agriculture. It is the foundation of the economy of the state, and it is mostly sustained by the labor of illegal Mexican immigrants. If you live in California and you don’t grow your own food, you either wouldn’t eat if it wasn’t for illegal Mexican immigrants or you would pay substantially higher prices for your food. It can hardly be considered a reward to grant such people the legal right to drive. Illegal immigrants also constitute a significant part of the labor force in the garment industry, the construction industry, and service industries.
If California is the 6th largest economy in the world, it is because immigration, including illegal immigration, is part of the equation that creates such a result. However, 2003 is not 1994, and neither the gubernatorial candidates nor the media are discussing the role that immigration plays in our society. Since proposition 187, Republicans have been swept out of state office and the democrats have established firm majorities in both legislative houses. If the perception of Arnold Schwarzenegger as someone with similar views to Pete Wilson’s spreads among California’s hispanics and socially conscious people, it will give fresh impetus to the backlash that has been taking place against Republicans.