I thought I'd share this and see how the local Coffee Party communities feel about this. Personally, I disagree with Ms. Park's statement that we should wait until this issue is "put on the table" nationally, and we have a few local groups --Â in the West particularly --Â who have been andÂ currently are, extremely active on this issue. For those of us who live in Georgia, we should be concerned and pro-active on immigration reform NOW rather than waiting, as one of the candidates for Governor, Nathan Deal (R) is proposing state legislation similar to Arizona's SB1070Â and Republicans in Utah, Colorado, Ohio and Texas are working to push through similar bills. Other statesÂ such as Oklahoma, Texas (yes, again) and North Carolina are getting help from the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI),Â whichÂ is the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), both backed and fundedÂ by nativistÂ John Tanton through his organization, US, Inc. They don't seem to be lying in wait...
From the CoffeePartyUSA.com blog:
From Annabel Park, Founder of Coffee Party USA and Co-director of 9500 Liberty, a documentary about the 2007-2008 immigration culture war in Prince William County, VA, currently playing in theaters.
The Coffee Party has no official stand on immigration right now. We are brought together by concerns about failures in our democratic process â€” a need for civil and informed dialogue, a need to end partisan warfare, to reduce the influence of money on politics and the influence of Wall St on Washington, a desire for transparency, accountability, media reform,Â and increased civic participation â€” so, we have more on our plate than traditional advocacy organizations. We are determined to make systemic changes to our political process, and to our culture. When legislation is pending on important national issues, we ask our members to meet and discuss them and also vote online. We will soon start this process with regard to campaign finance reform legislation under consideration in Congress.
When Comprehensive Immigration Reform is put on the table, we will take action on this issue in the same way we have with other issues. Â But, with SB1070 having been signed into law in Arizona, and with the potential for other states to enact similar laws during the upcoming election season, immigration has become a national issue even without federal action. Â We are considering calling for a national summit to discuss it.
My observation is that most people in America, including undocumented immigrants, are against illegal immigration. Even people here who lack legal status do not want to be undocumented. So the question "are you for or against illegal immigration" is no more relevant that its illogical counterpart "are you for or against SB 1070." The real question is how do we deal with the many challenges associated with an immigration system is out-of-date and no longer serving our national interests.
In 9500 Liberty, Eric Byler and I documented what happened in Prince William County, VA in 2007-08 when Eric's county government passed a law very similar to Arizona's SB 1070, mandating the police to check the immigration status of people they had "probable cause" to believe were undocumented.
There were some unforeseen and unintended consequences of this law. Public safety and the economy were negatively impacted. The tax rate went up more than 25%.Â There was bitter fighting in the county over the issue among people from all walks of life. Â And public trust in the government and, unfairly, the police force, was eroded. Also, the law put individual officers, the police department, and the county government in jeopardy of racial profiling lawsuits, which can prove very costly to taxpayers as well as to public safety (a 15 year trend of falling crime rates was reversed in Prince William County during the year of its immigration culture war). Â
For all of these reasons, the "probable cause" mandate was repealed in April 2008 in a unanimous vote by the same legislative body that had voted unanimously in favor of the policy the previous July. Â It had only in implementation for 2 months when, under pressure from citizens who were feeling the negative economic impact of the policy, in particular the business community, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors found the courage to stand firmly on the facts, on best practices studies, and on the economic and fiscal reality, rather than appeasing a vocal and vociferous minority who had dominated the process up to that point. Â Today, with the controversial measure repealed and in the past, the county has returned to normal. Â The crime rate is falling again, and the economy is growing again. Â
I think that local laws such as SB 1070 will not address the problems associated with illegal immigration and will instead create more challenges: economic, public safety, fiscal and constitutional. Please take a look at my interview with film critic Desson Thomson about this:Â
In December 2007, the Washington Post Outlook section editor asked Eric and me to write essays expressing our opinions. Â This is the video companion piece to those essays:Â Â
And this clip from the feature film tells the story of how Eric and I navigated the disturbing and often intimidating social climate, and the thorny issue of immigration made all the more contentious because it was being used as an election issue:Â
Eric and I look forward to engaging in a civil, fact-based, and solutions-oriented dialogue with you on this and other critical issues facing America today.
To comment on the original national website blog, please visit:
Before you do, I'd like to know what your thoughts are. Should national wait before dealing with this topic, especially with individual states taking action or should we wait and hope that the Justice Dept., Congress and the ObamaÂ AdministrationsÂ comes up with a remedy that will override the state laws being proposed or enacted?