The Chicago Tribune published an editorial about immigration reform that I almost entirely agree with. The conclusion:
The lesson here is that the one-dimensional, enforcement-only approach doesn't address the root of illegal immigration: Businesses need workers. When the system fails to provide enough visas to fill the available jobs, employers and workers find ways around it. Those needs should drive our immigration policy.
Absolutely true. But here's the one problem I have:
Crops don't get picked. Chickens don't get plucked. Kids don't go to school. And the line at the Department of Motor Vehicles is really, really slow. Those are among the unintended consequences of Alabama's overreaching immigration law.
I have come to dislike the phrase "unintended consequences" with regard to immigration because it suggests that these outcomes were never foreseen. But they were. In Alabama and elsewhere, state legislators heard from farmers and a wide variety of other groups about what would happen, but they chose not to listen. There were editorials in newspapers large and small about what would happen, and there were countless news stories about what was already happening in Arizona. And all were ignored.
Ultimately, any elected official who finds him or herself surprised by these outcomes is unfit to be making binding decisions on others. They chose to live in a bubble that repelled all contrary arguments, then found themselves with a new law that does terrible damage to their constituents. It wasn't that they wanted these consequences so much as they consciously steered the state in a direction that guaranteed them. That might be splitting hairs, and in any case the results are the same (such as punishing the elderly).