A reader was kind enough to send me an interesting link about the fun to be had in the great state of Alabama. I had set the topic aside for the moment because it is the holiday season and all that. But this was simply too interesting to ignore and so I perused the Web for the latest news. I was both amused and aghast by what I found. I think some tough love and some hard truths are in order here:
You cannot make immigration law and policy without impacting your own citizens. Yes, my fellow Americans, any law you write that targets foreigners will bounce back on you. This is universally true because immigrants do not have signs on their foreheads that say, "I am in an irregular immigration situation," or "I have a residency permit and am legal." Nor do citizens have an official tattoo somewhere on their persons proclaiming, "I am a citizen of this country."
If immigrants are required to show their papers, than citizens will be required to show their papers. It's really that simple. Even Anne Sinclair (a very famous French television personality and DSK's wife) ran afoul of this. A law voted by the right requires French citizens born outside France to prove their French nationality going back three generations. This meant that getting her identity card renewed turned into a bureaucratic nightmare and caused her to ask this rhetorical question, "Etre français, une chance ou une punition?" (Being French: Luck or a Punishment?)
You cannot be pro-foreign business and anti-foreigner. As much as we might like to think that businesses are magically created by elves and fairies that descend upon a particular locale, wave their wands, and create jobs if you've been very very good this year, the reality is that human beings (many of them with funny accents) are behind all this. Oddly enough these people don't care for having their largesse repaid by being stopped by police officers and hauled to jail. It makes them testy and inclined to head for friendlier places that also know how to attract business. Missouri apparently is touting itself as the anti-Alabama, "We are the 'Show me state" not the 'Show me your papers' state." Ouch.
As unfair as this may sound (and I agree it's not fair) potential migrants and foreign investors don't care about intentions and are not going to spend enormous amounts of time gleaning information from the local press to form a complete picture of the whys and wherefores of local immigration policy. What people are getting when they look at this from outside the country through the prism of their local news are impressions. I'll be brutally honest, from what is being reported I would not even think about bringing my foreign spouse anywhere near Alabama or Arizona or any other place in the U.S. where I suspect he might be treated poorly.
You do not live in the sweet spot of the universe. Nobody does. If I've learned one thing in my nomadic life, it is this: there is no better, just different. And all places have something wonderful to offer.
Migrants find happiness and build good lives in many places and they have, depending on their skillsets and local business needs, many options. Look at the HSBC Expat Survey or the MPI World Migrant Map where the U.S. is one top destination among many others like: Australia, Singapore, Dubai, Canada, France... I've been to some of them and I can attest personally to the fact that these are great places to live and work and build businesses.
Knowing that, I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry when I read this remark from an older Southern gentleman, “I know everybody likes to come to the U.S., but we can’t give them everything they want.”
Kind sir, I know you want that to be true but it isn't. It just isn't.