So, what are we to make of those raids Friday by the feds?
We had to wait for what seemed like an eternity for more information on just what, exactly, all those people were arrested for. All we knew, until they appeared in court Monday, was that nine people had been locked up with their booking sheets listing the charge of “hold for another agency.”
That “other agency” is the feds. All those being held are Hispanic. And because our national sport is jumping to conclusions, it didn’t take long before I started hearing from our local immigration control experts who just knew - knew! - that these arrests proved everyone in our community with brown skin is here illegally.
OK, so that’s an exaggeration. But not much.
This is one of those things that everyone “knows,” but doesn’t really “know,” as in has actual proof. They just know there are lots of people here who don’t look like them, and don’t talk like them. They know lots of them work in manual- or skilled-labor jobs.
They suspect those people aren’t here legally. They don’t know it, despite their certainty. I understand and share their frustration.
Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that this is a massive investigation, and we are likely seeing only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
What we know about the case so far could scarcely fill a thimble. What we suspect is a different story.
My guess is that one of the immediate effects of this operation is that home construction and remodeling costs are going to rise right in the middle of an already depressed market.
Many locals in the construction industry, especially those who have struggled to compete against the influx of cheap labor – Latin American, imported from the more-depressed Atlanta area, or both – will be happy to know that a major source of unfair competition is being shut down.
But this operation, while a big deal here, is itself like using a thimble to bail out the flood of illegals into our country. Sheriff Clay Whittle and the feds are to be commended for this operation, but there has to be far greater effort in stopping illegals from crossing the border in the first place.
Because once they’re here, we will use them. We will happily pay them less than we would pay a home-grown American for doing the same job. We will delight in getting a great deal on landscaping or framing or roofing, secure in the hypocritical, temporary belief that it’s none of our business where they came from.
Yet we will continue to wonder why so many of them come here, and why so many Americans are out of work.
Art After Auburn
Saturday’s annual Art After Dark, a great event for the local arts community, is at 7 p.m. at Church of the Holy Comforter on Furys Ferry Road.
Great timing: The Georgia-Auburn game starts at 3:30 p.m. and should be over by then. Go Dawgs!
Admission to the event costs just $5, and there always are a tremendous number of works of art for sale and for live and silent auction. I'm contributing a painting this year for the "celebrity" auction (the definition of "celebrity" is pretty loose).
I hope to see you there.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow at twitter.com/