Beau Underwood, Faith in Public Life’s Partnership and Outreach Coordinator, holds graduate degrees in religion and public policy and worked on several political campaigns before joining FPL. He blogs about faith in the public square, public theology, and workers’ rights and other economic issues at Bold Faith Type.
A new report conducted by a researcher at the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama finds that flight of Alabama’s immigrant community since the passage of anti-immigrant law HB 56 has cost the state tens of thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in lost sales tax revenues.
Dr. Samuel Addy, the author of the report, puts it bluntly:
While the law’s costs are certain and some are large, it is not clear that the benefits will be realized. From an economist’s perspective, the question Alabama and its legislature have to ponder is this: Are the benefits of the new immigration law worth the costs?
The analysis stands as a stark rebuttal to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the author of the legislation. In an interview with Think Progress this week, Kobach (who also authored a similar bill in Arizona) boldly asserted that he believes the law is having “no negative impact.”
Clearly Kobach is unwilling to let facts get in the way of his anti-immigrant ideology. Yet focusing narrowly only on the economic costs misses the larger point. Such draconian and hateful legislation undermines our values and blemishes our character. The economic costs are significant, but the moral costs are greater.
As the Republican presidential candidates court Latino voters in Florida and discuss their policy proposals for handling the immigration questions facing the U.S., the stakes for families suffering under our broken system could not be higher.
During a recent event on religion’s role in the 2012 elections held at the Center for American Progress, Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and executive member of the Latino Leadership Circle, noted the consistent support for immigration reform among the faith community and the broader American electorate. Salguero also discussed the potential political consequences of the staking out hardline, anti-immigrant positions on the campaign trail.
Since the 2010 elections, conservative governors and state legislators have pushed extreme economic agendas hurting middle class families and benefitting the wealthy and large corporations, despite large public outcries from the citizens whose interests they are supposed to represent. Unsurprisingly, the response has been strong and overwhelming.
Two state senators have already been recalled in Wisconsin for taking away the rights of workers to bargain collectively, and a similar fate may await Gov. Scott Walker. In Ohio, conservatives saw similar anti-worker legislation overturned by significant margins. In both Wisconsin and Ohio, people of faith were heavily involved in fighting these extreme agendas.
Now Indiana has followed suit, with House conservatives passing so called “right-to-work” legislation, which will result in lower wages for workers without helping boost job growth. Again, the voices of faith leaders and the protests of Indiana’s own citizens were ignored. Governor Mitch Daniels has announced his intention to sign the law, despite previously stating his opposition to the legislation.
In a time of economic challenge, these conservatives are prioritizing helping the few at the expense of the many. Elected officials are actively pursuing a radical agenda that fosters economic insecurity. The American Dream of a strong middle class is no longer a shared societal ideal. These fights inflict economic harm on families without addressing the real fiscal problems facing states. The faith leaders who have spoken out in defense of workers deserve applause and those advocating for these immoral policies deserve the public condemnation they’ve received.
On Monday the United States celebrated the accomplishments and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., but the fight to fully realize King’s dream and vision for a more just and fair society continues.
The legislative attacks on undocumented families in places like Arizona and Alabama demonstrate the urgent need for people of faith to take action. Scott Douglas, executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, appeared on The Colbert Report Monday night to discuss what’s happening in Alabama. Take a look:
The political debate around taxes has undergone a paradigm shift. Instead of the Tea Party-driven argument over taxes as “theft” from the successful, the discussion has increasingly focused on questions of responsibility and fairness. The agitation of the 99% Movement and the obstinacy of Wall Street banks handing out huge bonuses despite wrecking the economy are just two of the causes behind this transformation.
With the conversation revolving around fairness, elected officials and pundits defending policies that benefit the wealthy at the expense of everyday Americans look increasingly extreme. As evidence, a recent Pew Research Center for People & the Press poll found that 53% of evangelicals believe the current tax system is unfair. Perhaps most intriguing, when white evangelicals were asked “What bothers you most about taxes?” and given the choice of their own tax burden, the complexity of the tax system, or the wealthy not paying their fair share, nearly half of respondents were most upset with the wealthy not paying their faith share.
These findings follow other recent polls showing evangelicals support increased taxes on the wealthy, further belying the myth that evangelicals are ardent economic conservatives. Those busy supporting the status quo and defending the policies that caused the economic crisis must be feeling increasingly isolated.