In a move that is set to both raise the temperature of the immigration debate stateside – as well as provide anti-immigrationists with more fuel for their fire – the state of Florida is about to outdo Arizona with new laws on immigration.
The proposed legislation would put the sunshine state at the forefront of the anti-immigrant moves rapidly sweeping across the US.
Architects of the plans boast they will be the harshest anti-illegal immigration laws yet, a claim that could have an incendiary effect in Florida given the state’s high proportion of Latinos.
Bill McCollum, Florida’s attorney general, is the main proponent of the clampdown. He said the legislation would “provide new enforcement tools for protecting our citizens and will help our state fight the on-going problems created by illegal immigration. Florida will not be a sanctuary state for illegal aliens.”
The rise of overtly harsh immigration laws across the US looks like one consequence of the rise of the reactionary rightwing ‘Tea Party’ movement. By demonising the most vulnerable in society this campaign seeks to destabilise the Obama Presidency while laying the foundation for big wins in the November ‘Mid-Term’ elections which will in turn be the springboard for a rightwing fight for the White House in 2012.
The polarising of political debate is a tactic often used by extremists to drum up support for policies which in cooler headed times would be unpopular. As we turn to the UK there are many examples of tabloid press coverage either over sensationalising or making up stories about immigrants to sell newspapers. The byproducts of this are a rise in racial hatred which further marginalises Black and minority ethnic communities and leads to the electoral success of the far right.
Anyone who argues for ‘stronger’ anti-immigration policies should ask themselves: is a divided society, ill at ease with itself a price worth paying?
By Leon Green