MARIETTA, GA (By Rich Pellegrino) — Dear Cobb County Commissioners: In learning of your proposed signing of the IMAGE agreement with the federal Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), which supposedly will help the County prevent any undocumented residents from applying for a County job, one can only recall the popular folk song of the 60’s “When will they ever learn?????”
You say you are doing this to give the message that you are tough on illegal immigration however since the advent of your get tough stance on immigrants in 2006, started by then Chairman Olens and Sheriff Warren, and supported by present Chairman Lee, with the signing of other enforcement agreements with ICE, such as 287-G, the county has experienced unprecedented budget deficits resulting in a rise in property taxes and a cut in services, most notably a cut in the police department’s budget producing furloughs and an inability, according to Police officials’ own reports, to recruit police officers. (So much for your law and order arguments for this “get tough” stance.)
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect the dots and show how getting tough on and attempting to drive out one segment of the society, who work hard and pays taxes here, has a ripple effect which results in the closing of businesses, the loss of jobs and revenue of citizens, a rise in crime, and the resulting budget deficits we are experiencing. (Yes, contrary to common the common belief based on emotions and not facts, all independent audits, which I will be happy to provide you, indicate that the undocumented immigrant population pays in substantially more in taxes than the services they receive, and they actually create jobs with their buying power.), The lessons learned from the politics of hate and exclusion directed towards one minority group in the past, especially here in the South, should have taught us that the whole community loses, becomes diminished and ends up paying for it---an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. “When will we ever learn?????”
This new Image agreement with ICE is just that—an image with no substance—giving the appearance of a solution but is really just another example of a non-solution to a non-existent problem, which amounts to political pandering and not leadership--for how many undocumented residents do you really think apply for county jobs? Plus, if they did, the county already uses the E-Verify system so why waste your time and taxpayer dollars for another redundant system? ICE is charged with the responsibility to find, arrest and deport violent and dangerous criminals and this will do nothing to help the county or federal government to fulfill that charge and hence is another example of the big, wasteful government spending which you decry.
If you really want to help the people of this county find real solutions to the real problems here then the Cobb Immigrant Alliance, the Cobb Coalition, and other organizations, are ready and willing to help, but we will never support a “getting tough” stance on immigrants, whether they are documented or undocumented, as they are an integral and welcome part of our community who contribute to the quality of life here, and will remain so. We would much better be served in Cobb by effecting an agreement with organizations like Welcoming America (at www.welcomingamerica.org/) and Uniting-America.org (at www.uniting-america.org ) which help communities value their diversity and the contributions of all segments of our society, including our new immigrants of all backgrounds.