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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Editorials/commentary: Alabama vs. illegal immigrants ...

Above: Someone else who may have left Alabama ...

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- Help wanted: Citizens won't take Alabama jobs - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

Alabama, with the toughest immigration law in the country, should serve as a testing ground for a number of widely held beliefs about illegal immigrants and their value to or drain on the nation’s economy.

Chief among those beliefs, or myths, as they might be proven to be, is that undocumented workers are taking jobs away from Americans.

If the situation in Alabama continues as it has since the law went into effect in June, that theory is about to be blown out of the water by the reality that Americans simply don’t want the jobs the undocumented are filling.

Take agriculture, for example. When produce pickers left in droves to avoid being harassed and possibly deported by Alabama law enforcement officers, farmers were left with potatoes and tomatoes rotting in the fields. While some citizen workers gave the back-breaking work a try, not many of them stuck with it. ...

... Farm and service industries need workers, and immigrants need jobs. It is shameful that, in this country, we force the undocumented to work in the shadows, without protection or rights, and harass them at every turn.

They deserve to be given at least guest worker status under a federal immigration law that makes sense. Enforcement-only laws like Alabama’s and Utah’s HB497 do not

From Alabama:

- American citizens have a long history of violating our own laws - Joey Kennedy, The Birmingham News

Our nation was created by violating the laws of the day. The whole American Revolution grew from civil disobedience toward the mother country, Great Britain. We broke laws and killed people. I'm up with it, but when I hear people say "illegal is illegal," or "what about illegal don't you understand," I just chuckle. ...

[- Is the US Declaration of Independence illegal? - BBC]

- Disrupted lives - Montgomery Advertiser Editorial

... The new law has disrupted Alabama businesses that struggle to replace many of the immigrant workers they have lost. It especially has disrupted state farmers who can't find people willing or able to gather their crops. It has disrupted government agencies that have had to deal with the new identity requirements. For a couple of weeks -- until a court stayed a provision of the new law -- it threw many school officials into a tizzy trying to identify the legal residency status of school children.

But most of all, it has disrupted the lives of thousands of people who are in this country only because they are willing to work hard to feed their families. ...

- What kind of people are we? - Huntsville Times Editorial

... The strategy to "attack every area of an illegal alien's life," ... suggests a grim, clenched-jaw ruthlessness far out of proportion to the issue.

We Alabamians generally are decent and charitable people who share generously when misfortune befalls others. But we can be led astray.

- From bad to worse - Dothan Eagle Editorial

... The issue of illegal immigrants in our state is undeniable, and while its impact is debatable, the unintended consequences of the controversial and xenophobic immigration law, particularly with regard to agriculture and education, may well be devastating. ...

- Immigration policy approach not working - Tuscaloosa News Editorial

... This nation is still a magnet for those who want better lives. We should be proud of that. The ability to attract ambitious, hardworking immigrants can be a source of national strength, but we must pull back from knee-jerk, patchwork measures and establish a reasonable mix of enforcement and opportunity.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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