Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Capitalism and immigration in Charlotte

The news recently has been filled with congressional initiatives to punish employers who hire undocumented workers (complete with rah-rah quotes like “We are tough and we are going to be even tougher”). In addition, as of July 2 local governments had introduced a staggering 1,404 pieces of legislation related to immigration. This brings several things to mind.

First, this is a huge test for whether all the pro-immigration rallies can translate into political influence and resist the anti-immigrant tide. I have my doubts, but perhaps I am wrong.

Second, it also a major test for enforcement-only advocates. We will see whether the “pure punishment” strategy works as claimed.

Third, capitalism is humming along in the opposite direction, oblivious to the political bluster. Just in the Charlotte area, there will be a new Latino-themed mall, there is Mexican rodeo, aisles in every supermarket are well-stocked with Mexican food products, small markets and restaurants (of all different types) thrive, while Bank of America and insurance companies offer loans and policies without requiring a Social Security card.

In the South, this is a new phenomenon. Businesses no longer look at the immigrant population solely in terms of labor, but rather also as an almost entirely untapped market.


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