Battlepanda: Tennessee Senate candidates pander to xenophobes


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tennessee Senate candidates pander to xenophobes

That's how today's headline in the Commercial Appeal should have read. Instead, it read

Senate race casts border issue as local

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Yes, believe it or not, here in Tennessee, certain candidates for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Frist have determined that what Tennesseans are really worried about is not national security, or health care, or the war in Iraq. It's those damn dirty Mexicans sneaking in the U.S. without permission.
"It's the No. 1 issue," said former congressman Ed Bryant, one of three major candidates for the GOP nomination. "Illegal immigration and the impact it's having on counties large and small."

"I agree with the President [who favors a guest worker program for illegal immigrants already in the country] on a lot of issues but this is one that I just don't agree with him on," said candidate Bob Corker, a businessman and former mayor of Chattanooga. "We're too lenient on the people who are already here."

[Van] Hilleary, another candidate for the Senate, wants to build the barrier [on the U.S.-Mexico border], deputize local law enforcement officials on the border and use satellites and reconnaissance drones to track migrants.

"It's a right and wrong issue," said Hilleary. "We're supposed to live by the rule of law. There are millions of people here who are flouting our laws."

Of course it's absurd to think of illegal immigration as a problem for Tennessee, as the story points out.
The state is hardly a hotbed of illegal immigrants. There were between 100,000 and 150,000 in Tennessee in 2004, the Pew Hispanic center estimated, far fewer than in states like California (2.4 million), Texas (1.4 million) or Florida (850,000).
That's 100 to 150 thousand out of a total population of 5.7 million.

But the paragraph that follows is the real kicker:
Overall, Hispanics in Tennessee -- legal and otherwise -- made up 2.9 percent of the population in 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But in small towns, a tiny population of Mexicans can loom large.
"This used to be such a nice little town, until those Mexicans moved in."