“FEAR is an acronym…for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” – Neale Donald Walsch
I don't know about you, but I’ll sleep better tonight knowing they’ve found the six freshmen/ new students (out of 5,700 total) at UGA who lack citizenship documentation. Another threat to society, routed out! The numbers aren’t out yet on the total number of illegal aliens calling themselves Dawgs, but according to the state university system’s residency verification committee, of the 302,000 students enrolled in Georgia’s 35 statefunded colleges and universities, 230 don’t have the proper paperwork. That is one half of one percent – whew! Another close call averted.
Given the economic trouble our state university system is wrestling with, I hope the chancellor’s committee was made up of volunteers, but something tells me it wasn’t. I wonder how much money this student citizenship witch hunt cost us in terms of lost time and wages paid to the folks at each institution of higher learning who had “verifying student documentation” added to their job descriptions? Something tells me we won’t hear about that because what’s important now is that we stay scared and angry over “all those illegals” taking advantage of our valuable resources.
Never mind that they’re paying out-of-state tuition ($35,000 at UGA this year) or that that they’re buying books, eating food, paying rent and contributing to our ailing economy by spending money in other ways. What’s important is that those students are taking spots that should’ve been reserved for U.S. citizens…well, that may be.
But, let’s look at it another way. I read a newspaper editorial this week that posed an interesting notion. The gist of it was that if we are going to deny access to state-funded resources like universities and colleges to students who lack proof of citizenship, why not take our patriotic fervor a step further and deny access to state-supplemented resources to industries and businesses that employ illegal aliens?
What? We can’t run a poultry plant without access to water! No more cheap construction labor? We’re in a recession right now – we can’t pay the kind of wages an American expects. And how about all those businesses barely scraping by - but still able to do so - based, in part, on their dependence on illegal workers? With unemployment as high as it is, shouldn’t all of our jobs go to U.S. citizens? It makes sense. So, where are the politicians willing to make sure our already existing labor laws are enforced?
I am tired of hearing politicians pontificating about fear-based initiatives and running hate and anger-based campaigns. The problem of illegal immigration and who is entitled to what is way more complex than any of the solutions being proposed and if we continue to settle for simplistic sound bites rather than difficult but necessary action, shame on us, too.
There are things we should be scared of here in Georgia – things that actually kill people, like heart disease, cancer, strokes, accidental injury and highway death to name the top five. Those are the things really threatening us in significant numbers – not people without the right paperwork stealing our school desk seats. Where are all the bills to tackling those very real problems?
While we’re singling out groups to deny resources to, when will we see a candidate run on a platform that includes making it legal to deny obese people access to state-funded resources because their health issues cost us taxpayers a lot of money in Medicaid and unpaid-for medical bill expenses each year? Why not appoint a special committee to identify and aggressively deal with dead-beat dads – the unemployed or self-employed ones who are flying below the child support collection system radar? Let’s deny them access to state-funded resources, too. (That could actually turn out to be a popular political platform plank, as it would also reduce the number of women and children using state-funded resources simply because their child support isn’t coming in.) While we’re legislating lunacy, let’s force employers to take some of those jobs they freed up by firing all their illegal workers and give them to those dead beat dads and financially strapped moms… Anybody want to get on the news by proposing something like that?
The point is there is a narrow, fear, hate and anger-based focus that may get news coverage and gain votes, but it doesn’t solve complex problems. And, most of the problems our state and nation face right now are quite complex. Comprehensive long term solutions require difficult and potentially unpopular actions and until we start demanding that from our politicians all we’ll get is the kind of tabloid-splash drivel that this big tracking down of “all those” illegal alien students has become – something that generates a lot of noise, but tangibly affects only one half of one percent.
We deserve better, but it is up to us to get it. “The key to change is to let go of fear,” Rosanne Cash said; I couldn’t agree more.
Lorin Sinn-Clark is a writer for the Barrow Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.