Delayed Dealing With The ElephantThe Tennessean would like us all to know that illegal immigration is no longer an important issue to people in this State:
Republicans had high hopes for changing Tennessee's immigration laws after sweeping into power last fall.
But as the economy worsened and the session wore on, they've have had to change their focus.
"We came to ask ourselves, where could we … do the best thing for Tennesseans during the short time we had, and that was not coordinating a position on illegal immigration," Shipley said.
Of course, certain people at various Chambers of Commerce around Tennessee are pleased that immigration proposals that were initially slated to be voted on are now taking a back seat to economic concerns.
"We've worked really hard to explain to legislators that it's functionally very difficult for an employer to know if he's hiring someone who's legal," said Dan Haskell, chairman of the Tennessee Jobs Coalition and lobbyist for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
It goes without saying that generally, my conservative philosophy causes me to take the side of the business owner in most cases, but frankly this kind of skirting around the question by saying "it is just to hard" is really a way of saying "we want to continue doing it, because we know the federales won't do anything, and you are going to let us do it, right?" The Chamber of Commerce is literally asking the Tennessee General Assembly to turn a blind eye and allow them to break the law and take no sovereign enforcement action, which Tennessee can do since the federal government refuses to.
Constituents, says Rep. Tony Shipley, do find the issue of illegal immigration important.
Shipley said his constituents want action now, but he and his supporters will have to wait.
Shipley said he's convinced that illegal immigration costs even more to Tennessee in health care and education; he is awaiting a comptroller's report determining the cost of illegal immigration to the state.
Despite the wishes of Chambers of Commerce around the State, as well as the editorial board of The Tennessean, the desire of citizens to have the Legislature address illegal immigration in some fashion is not going away. Illegal immigration is like the giant elephant in the room, something else (in this case, the economy) may cause you to ignore it for awhile, but it just won't go away. If Republicans ignore the concerns of ordinary constituents in order to placate the Chamber of Commerce, they will be guilty of the same thing Tennessee Democrats were for years-allowing lobbying groups to run the General Assembly as opposed to the Leadership running the Legislature.
While I agree that the economy is everyone's front-burner issue right now, if Tennesseans believe that their pocketbooks are adversely impacted by illegal immigration, many will demand action, and the General Assembly will pay for inaction at some later point.