Here's how to tell illegal immigration has gotten out of hand:
1. When the Atlanta media this past week sought comments regarding Senate Bill 529, the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, reporters called the local chapter of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
2. While senators debated, and later overwhelmingly passed, the bill that would toughen penalties on illegal immigrants, a crowd of Hispanic men milling around outside the Capitol building told a reporter they were illegals who worked in home-construction and chicken-processing jobs. They said they came to the Legislature when they heard about the debate over Latino radio stations.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the fact that we have an Atlanta chapter of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and that admitted illegals can congregate on the grounds of our state capitol, pretty much tells us we're losing the war against illegal immigration. We aren't even fighting it.
SB 529 is designed to prevent illegal immigrants from getting benefits from taxpayers, keep employers from claiming on their taxes the wages paid to illegals, and require local cops to call the feds when they arrest an illegal.
The last one is pretty funny. Just ask Sheriff Clay Whittle what happens when deputies notify federal authorities that they've picked up an illegal. The so-what response is less than underwhelming.
Yet even though the bill is certain to pass the House, certain to be signed by the governor, and certain to be supported by Georgians, it won't do a smidgen of good until those feds take control of our southern border.
That won't happen without a change from big business, which reaps the benefit of cheap workers.
And it won't happen until all of us admit that we enjoy the prices we're getting because of lower labor costs and better work ethic from people who take great risk to come here and do jobs that many of us won't do, at wages that we won't consider, and in conditions we're too soft to tolerate.
Perdue still ahead
Conditions aren't looking so tolerable for the two Democrats who would like to boot Sonny Perdue out of the governor's mansion.
A poll in January by Strategic Vision showed Secretary of State Cathy Cox beating Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor in the Democratic primary, and then losing to Perdue in the fall.
A new Strategic Vision poll released this past week showed Perdue still receiving 57 percent of the vote in a match-up with either Cox or Taylor, but with both challengers' support slipping toward "undecided."
The tough campaigning hasn't started yet. But the Democrats clearly have an uphill climb.
In the race to replace Taylor, the national feeding frenzy over Jack Abramoff has barely made a dent in Republican Ralph Reed. His "favorable" responses have moved up a point, but his "unfavorables" have moved up two - hardly a seismic shift in spite of all the bad press.
More importantly, Reed is still leading GOP opponent Casey Cagle - with his lead growing slightly since the last poll. The challenge for both is that the numbers of "undecided" voters has also grown, meaning more people are still waiting to make up their minds.
By the way: The national media seem to believe President Bush is about as unpopular as, well, the national media, but in Georgia, W still holds a (slim) majority approval rating.
Heard from a pollster?
Speaking of polls, county residents have reported calls from what appear to be competing polls testing the waters on consolidation. The Legislative Delegation has been conducting such a poll; word has it county commissioners are, too.
If you've participated in one of these polls, let me know what you thought.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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