What Could Kanye West Say About Alabama's Immigration Law?
A new petition is asking Mr. West to lend his star power to the protest
A Change.org petition is requesting the assistance of rapper Kanye West to speak out against Alabama's HB 56 immigration bill. In addition to making life extremely difficult for Latino undocumented immigrants, the proposed bill also impacts anyone who looks like an immigrant, working, traveling or going to school in the state. The Obama Administration is challenging the state law, and others like it, but apparently that's not good enough. Petitioners at Change.org -- 786 as of yesterday -- think the tipping point for repealing the bill will be a meeting with Yeezy, who will be in Birmingham soon to kick off his Watch the Throne tour.
Writes the petitioners:
"In the spirit of social justice and hip hop, please help us get the message to a world-renowned artist that we need help in this fight. Kanye West has spoken out publicly about issues of racial and economic justice before, and earlier this month he even showed up at Occupy Wall Street. Getting Kanye to speak out while he's in Birmingham would have a dramatic impact on letting folks around the country see what is wrong with extreme immigration policy like Alabama's."
Let's just have a get-real moment here: Kanye West might have a "dramatic impact" on the state, but there is no Alabama lawmaker who will be swayed by his words to get rid of this bill. But say hypothetically there were policymakers willing to lend an ear to the rapper-slash-failed-fashion-designer, what could he possibly say about a topic like immigration?
Well, just in case 'Ye decides to heed the call from his fans to speak out about this, we decided to play speechwriter and prepare his remarks for him. We know he doesn't fly around in private jets reading the latest on immigration policy, so we did the work for him:
Dear elected officials of the state of Alabama,
About six years ago I went on live television after seeing the city of New Orleans flood after the Army Corps of Engineers’ levees broke during Hurricane Katrina and said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
Last year, I apologized for saying that, but what I left out is that one group of people I know he does care about is brown people, or rather Latino Americans. After Katrina, he suspended the Davis-Bacon Act so that businesses didn’t have to deal with fair or living wage rules. This helped usher in waves of immigrants, many of them Latinos, into New Orleans to help build the city back. He eventually reinstated it, but a lot of Latino workers were already in the city working on the recovery effort by then.
I was just in New Orleans this past summer for Essence Fest and I can tell you with my own eyes that the city is on a strong path to recovery, and it’s indisputable that an essential reason for that is because of the Latino workers who worked
and were exploited rebuilding homes and businesses.
What does this have to do with you? Well, Alabama is no stranger to disasters, having suffered a terrible tornado that almost wiped out Tuscaloosa. There are plenty of areas that need recovered and rebuilt harder, better, faster, stronger. But that won’t happen because of your HB 56 law that basically penalizes people for being Latino. Among other penalties, It would allow police to shake people down for proof that they are legal citizens if they think they have “reasonable suspicion” that they’re not -- that’s racial profiling in my book.
People of color like me already have to drive slow when in our tour bus going through the South, and we travel with a lot of people who are Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban and Dominican. I can’t afford to get pulled over by flashing lights because you “reasonably suspect” that I’m transporting what you call “illegal aliens.”
Your governor signed what people are saying is the toughest immigration bill in the nation. No one man should have all that power. How could you be so heartless? HB 56 is already driving flocks of Latinos out of your state, which is having a tough economic impact on your state. It’s almost November and y’all are about to have the coldest winter ever when you see what it means to not have your farm lands harvested, your crops picked and homes improved and built.
Let’s not play the blame game. Cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, where I’m from, have enjoyed economic growth and are considered great because of their ethnic diversity, especially from their Latino populations. The nation benefits too. Almost 40% of last year’s Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. If you take out the 120,000 undocumented immigrants living in your state, you’re not only taking out workers, taxpayers and customers for your businesses, you’re breaking up families and traumatizing kids who’ve done nothing wrong.
I ate at Max’s Deli in Birmingham and talked with owner Steve Dubrinsky who said that not only immigrants but people who look like immigrants now no longer come to eat there. You messing with this man’s money, which means he might have to lay off workers. I’m glad to see that the federal courts blocked the provision of that bill that would have made made schools check the citizenship status of kid students and their parents. This led to almost 5,300 kids disappearing from Alabama schools at one point. This bill is a monster for those kids.
If you keep this up, your businesses, your economy, your state’s reputation -- it all falls down. Thinking your state’s funding streams will remain in tact is just one dark, twisted fantasy. Immigrants pay sales taxes, property taxes and rental fees that keep cities and states running. Your state has been giving massive tax breaks for foreign car companies like Hyundai and Kia to set up shop in your state, which as you know need workers. The executives of those companies need to put their kids in school! How do you think Japanese car company workers are going to feel with an anti-immigration bill like this? They’ll be so appalled.
Do the right thing and runaway from this bill. And if any one of you policymakers are asked how you had a change of heart, just say “Yeezy taught me.”
Sincerely yours through the wire,
P.S. Jesus walks, and as an undocumented immigrant under your bill, he'd be walked right into the deportation center.