In part two, I told my story of how I saw things out West, sharing my feelings, thoughts, and concerns over such behaviours and events. In this part, I will continue to share what is happening in the Ozarks.
Today, while we waited to meet with Senator McCaskill, several of us discussed the Minutemen’s petition to Springfield’s City Council. If passed, this could get one woman's, who is White, son accused of being an illegal because he is half Latino. However, he was born in the U.S. Similarly, people have mistaken my sons as Latino, but they are not. They are half Black.
If passed, this supposedly would allow anyone who sees a person with brown skin to say, “I think they are illegal” and an investigation could start. In turn, this would disrupt many lives.
Jerry Wilson, an Ozark man who serves as a spokesman for the Ozarks Minutemen, said the ordinance is needed to close a "loophole big enough to drive an 18-wheeler through" in the current process of verifying worker eligibility.
"This ordinance would probably be gutted at a cost to businesses and taxpayers," Robles said.
He criticized the Ozarks Minutemen as dealers in "innuendos, accusations, fear-mongering" while describing the ordinance — described as an anti-illegal immigration measure — as a message to businesses that "you're not welcome here."
Cheryl Clay, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, also said the proposal would hurt local businesses and waste local staff time.
"There are already legal procedures in place (to address illegal immigration)," she said. "I do not believe it is the city of Springfield's duty to police the federal government."
According to another article, the Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Ozark Minutemen as a "nativist extremist" group.
The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the "Springfield Minutemen" on its 2010 list of "nativist extremist" groups — those that "target individual immigrants rather than immigration policies" — but Wilson said the listing appears to be based on outdated and incorrect information.
The list identifies the group as a chapter of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.
The Ozark Minutemen’s proposal, which is found on their website, addresses businesses, who “knowingly hire illegal immigrants”. However, we already have laws related to that and all people must show proof of legal status before they are hired anywhere.
According to McCaskill’s website, she has fought for the enforcement of existing Immigration laws.
Since her candidacy for U.S. Senate, Claire has repeatedly stated her belief that enforcing penalties against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants is the key to curbing the problem of illegal immigration in this country. She believes the promise of employment and social services act as a magnet in attracting immigrants across our border. Claire believes that if U.S. employers were unwilling to hire illegal immigrants for fear of serving jail time themselves, then immigrants would be less likely to illegally cross our border. Any effort at immigration reform should include stronger employer sanctions and aggressive enforcement.
Throughout 2007 and 2008, Claire repeatedly fought to persuade the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Program to intensify its efforts to crack down on those who entice and employ undocumented workers. For a long period of time, ICE refused to even release numbers on how many employers had been prosecuted for hiring illegal immigrants. Finally, in 2009, the new administration at DHS responded to Claire’s urging. In April 2009, DHS issued new guidelines and regulations that are increasing attention and resources on prosecuting employers who violate our nation’s immigration laws.
Do you remember I mentioned “racial profiling”? This profiling is a concern to many minorities and relatives of minorities, who are naturally tan or brown in complexion, as well as the legal Latino population, especially those who do not know English fluently yet.
Critics said the initiative unfairly targets industries such as lawn maintenance and construction.
"Our industry and many others are already hurting," said Amber Gladson with The Lawn Care Company. "Although we do not employ illegal aliens, this legislation targets small businesses and costs valuable time and resources."
Yolanda Lorge is the President of Groupo Latinoamericano. Her organization helps immigrants assimilate into the American culture by teaching citizens classes and giving English lessons. Although she supports all laws on the books, she says the proposed initiative goes too far.
"It is a target population for this. We know it and they know it is. It is the Hispanic population, because they are not describing the Russians," said Lorge.
Critics fear racial profiling will increase, especially since it's the job of the people to blow the whistle on companies hiring suspected illegal aliens.
The Minutemen website lists of traits to spot an illegal alien. What are they? No, they are not pointed ears (Vulcans) or bumps on forehead (Klingons). According to the article, people are saying this:
"Why are they describing how can you tell if this child is undocumented? I thought we were talking about E-Verify. Are you going to E-Verify at school as well?" asked Lorge.
Wilson explained people should focus on the bigger picture and not just one characteristic.
"It is profiling, but it is behavioral profiling," he said. "That type of profiling has been used by our immigration customs enforcement root of our government for some time."
Although most do not dispute the legality of hiring undocumented workers, some feel the federal laws should suffice.
"What population are we talking about here? What is a big problem? We have bigger problems in this area," said Lorge. "We have meth cookers, meth producers big time. And if the state or the city or the county is not taking care of that problem, will they take care of it?"
One of the Minutemen’s criteria for an illegal is one who walks from their address to work. This is something that many of us do and sometimes we walk to the bus stop. Not everyone has car, including legal citizens. There is also a reason why one of the slang terms for meth is 417. We have problems, but it is not illegal immigration.
However, as I said before, we already have laws in place, which are not enforced. Claire McCaskill is working to enforce these laws, especially for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
The meeting was organized by Grupo Latinoamericano, which believes the initiative is aimed at Hispanics in general and Mexicans in particular, said the group’s executive director, Yolanda Lorge.
“This has been personalized,” she said. “Illegal alien equals Mexican.”
The effort to get the proposal on the ballot is disturbing, said Mark Struckhoff, executive director of the Council of Churches of the Ozarks.
“It’s a message that doesn’t belong in the community,” Struckhoff said. “It’s a message of trying to dominate other people and dominate other people who are just making it.”
The Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights will meet next week and discuss the proposal, said chairman George Davis, who added that he’s concerned the petition could be flawed because it doesn’t protect citizens or legal immigrants from harassment.
The paper, passed out at the meeting today, announcing the picketing against the Minutemen on Monday states, “Let’s join together to make a stand against hate—a stand for tolerance and inclusion, a stand for reason instead of lies, a stand for a diverse, vibrant, and welcoming Springfield.” It further states that that E-Verify system is highly flawed and error-riddled.
Citizens will be encouraged to report suspected undocumented workers and their employers, which will result in racial profiling and harassment of our friends and neighbours.
Do you remember the American Indian from a reservation that I mentioned? As far as I know, American Indians are now considered U.S. citizens, but due to his complexion, as far as I could tell, he was singled out for inspection and show documentation.
Supposedly, the Minutemen admit Springfield Missouri does not have a problem with undocumented workers and that this action is a pre-emptive one.
The paper also stated that the “true facts” of immigrants is that they bring more to a local economy than they take away. They create jobs, add revenue, pay real estate taxes, and create a rich, culturally diverse community. Accordingly, to the paper, it is bad for business, the city, and above all, bad for the community.
Continue to the final part of this series.