As 2020 came, many of us counted down with hopes that the New Year would bring new experiences and new ways forward. Despite the calendar telling us it was 2020, Frankfort’s calendar still said 1990. On the first day of the legislative session, the Kentucky Senate announced as their top priority an anti-immigration bill, Senate Bill 1, that, if passed, will ultimately lead to family separations across the Commonwealth.
The bill will force public employees to act as immigration agents, forcing counties to keep ICE detainers which violate the Constitution according to some courts, and create an environment of fear and intimidation for foreign-born Kentuckians and those who love us. We have had this discussion across the country over the years in California, Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia. No matter where these undocumented immigrant “crack down” laws were enacted, the result was always the same: failure in the economic relief promised, failure in safety it would bring, and failure in humanity.
Immigrants wish to be valued in their communities because they are human not just because they are “useful.” When these debates began, immigrants’ rights activists played that game of “the good immigrant” legislators wanted. Immigrants talked about how the laws mentioned before failed because at the end of the day the supposed “wave of crime” immigrants bring and the accusation that they are a“drain on our tax dollars” are all lies. Even the conservative Cato Institute admits that immigrants have a lower crime rate than their native-born counterparts and bring in more in taxes than they take. Activists showed how the narrative that immigrants do not assimilate has historically been used a racist excuse not accept immigrants into the country. But that did not matter to politicians. No matter how many studies were cited or how immigrants tried to “prove” that they were “useful,” legislators shrugged.