Guest Column Submission – Latino Community/Immigration Laws

By Arturo Corso

It’s official.  The drought is over.  Our prayers have been answered.  Thank you, Mother Nature.  Thanks God.  And we’ll thank you, Corps of Engineers, to keep our reservoir full until as we continue our prayers for economic recovery here and across the nation.

For many in our Community, however, the suffering continues.  Our public servants are being furloughed to the tune of 10% or their salaries cut, with still more cuts coming.  Closing the County offices one day per month means the People’s business doesn’t get done.  Dozens of County and State employees are being laid off outright, with no hope of being rehired any time soon.  This isn’t belt-tightening – these are our hard-working, long-serving friends and neighbors, prosecutors and judges, clerks and police officers, just to name a few.

They’re not the only ones.  There is an entire Community of people living and working here that face a government-sponsored onslaught.  I’m talking about a Community of Human Beings who are being targeted by sinister legislation that seeks to prevent them from voting, working, driving, and even enjoying their birthright – United States Citizenship.  I’m talking about the Latino Community.

I do not believe the conservative pit bulls who argue that they have nothing against immigrants, only illegal immigration.  That’s just bull.  The conservative talking heads who attack U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonja Sotomayor prove that the culture war targets not just immigrants, but Latinos and women in general.

We’ve endured a drought of good legislation.  The laws proposed by xenophobes like James Mills (who’s never been accused of thoughtful reflection before penning a bill) and others, fall on our heads like a hard, merciless rain.  It is a pelting designed to turn Latinos in to a permanent underclass in our society, relegated to housekeeping and grass-cutting the same way that the Bull Connor’s of the world sprayed their hoses at African-Americans in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Today, it’s Steve Cronic unleashing his myopic stratagem on Latinos.

You better believe that these two groups’ suffering are related.  Cronic took the 287G program, an immigration law designed to expel serious, violent criminals from our borders, and desecrated it so he could spend your money and save us all from the horrors of people driving their cars without licenses to work without social security numbers.

What a waste of resources.  And money.  Don’t think there isn’t big money in rounding up aliens to jail and deport them.  If there weren’t, we wouldn’t have a private prison setting up shop in downtown Gainesville to compete with the County jail for a piece of the pie.

Did you know that every single person arrested and held in the jail for such minor offenses costs the County more than $35 per day?  Multiply that by 30 days, the average length of stay in the jail for such transgressions.  That’s $1,050.  No multiply that by the more than 500 people per year charged.  That’s $525,000.  Now consider that because these people are deported, they do not pay the average $1,000 fine.  That’s another $500,000 lost per year.  These are just conservative estimates.  The reality is that Cronic’s version of this program costs us much, much more.  We cannot afford to lose Millions of Dollars per year in Hall County alone just to satisfy the blood-lust of a local politician like Cronic.  How many County employees jobs would be restored but for this campaign?

Cronic’s abuse of the 287G program is unique in Georgia.  Neighboring Gwinnett County abandoned a trial of the program just a few months ago over concerns about negative economic impact and concerns by the Director of Health and Human Services that it leads to Human Rights abuses.  Also consider that the people who are deported can’t stick around to pay court costs and probation supervision fees.  They can’t perform community service, take care of their spouses or even feed their children.  Some of these destitute families end up seeking transitional assistance from taxpayer funded resources.  The very cost of deportation is more money from our pockets, not to mention the lost sales and income tax revenue that comes from removing cash-paying consumers from our Community.

It won’t be long before we see chicken reach $8 per pound.  Who’ll be able to afford that?  New construction can’t get a kick start if we let Cronic expel all the skilled carpenters and brick masons who also happen to have Brown skin.  All told, I would say that Cronic is directly responsible for the local economic depression and the County’s need to furlough and fire our public servants, our friends and neighbors.  Get your public relations firm working on how to spin that into a news story with your smiling mug in the paper or enlist one of your ilk to pen a rambling letter to the editor.  Bottom line: Steve Cronic is bad for business and bad for Hall County.  I’m only telling you a truth that others are afraid to tell you.

For the love of God, man!  They’re people.  They’re just people, like you and me.  They’ve done nothing to you.  Imprison and expel the drug dealers, yes, and the violent criminals.  And those who deliberately harm children or pray upon the elderly.  (If you can figure out how, expel those Anglo Citizens who commit these crimes as well.)  But please stop setting up road blocks on every street corner in the Latino Community day and night simply to snatch mothers and fathers from the arms of their children.  If I cannot appeal to your humanity, please allow me to appeal to your common sense.  County jobs are being lost and County budgets slashed because of your appalling failure to exercise even the slightest discretion.  You sir, have fouled your office with dishonor.

We all easily understood why the drought was hurting our economy.  It’s not hard to understand why the foolish, hateful and, yes, racist persecution of Latino children and their parents with the 287G program is crushing us still.  We are in the midst of a drought of humanity not unlike that which laid our souls bare and shamed a Nation during the Civil Rights era.  I call on everyone within this article’s reach to call Steve Cronic and tell him how much you are suffering in this economy. If you can’t call, write him a letter.  Or send your letters to this paper and ask them to be printed. Ask this Sheriff how he can look in the eyes of a child who has forever lost his right to be raised by the loving attention of his father or mother because they dared to drive down the street to a job no one else would do.

For too long society has tolerated the destruction of minority families in the false name of law and order.  For decades we have sent Black fathers to prison in numbers too staggering to believe and then watched Black children grow up fatherless and disadvantaged, all the time wondering why juvenile crime was on the rise.  There has been a drought of humanity toward the Black Community for Four Hundred years.  Will we now tolerate the same treatment of Latinos?

We all cry to the heavens for relief from time to time.  Lately the refrain has been, “When’s it gonna rain?”  Others have been crying, “Brothers, when’s it gonna stop?”

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