Stephen Guy Hardin / January 14, 2011

Atlanta on the Rio Grande

Send me your tired, your poor, your illegals… wait a minute, I don’t think that’s right. Well, maybe not in your town. But in my town it’s the reality.

Metro Atlanta continues to draw new foreign born nationals despite the economic downturn, which apparently is still George W. Bush’s fault, even though he’s been out of office for over two years. But I digress.

Atlanta’s immigrant population grew by 42,000 people, or 6 percent, from 2007 to 2009. This steady increase was felt in many ways, both good and bad: providing low-cost labor while also burdening many public services, as well as increasing the crime rate and further eroding the social structure and cohesion of Atlanta and the state of Georgia.

Yeah, well, I guess there aren’t any good points after all.

As of 2009, nearly three-quarters of a million foreign born people made the 28-county metro area their home, according to census figures, accounting for 13 percent of the population. The census distinguishes between foreign born people who are now U.S. citizens in metro Atlanta and the one-third of those who are off the legal radar. But these numbers can’t accurately estimate the actual number of illegal’s in the Atlanta metro area.

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 28 percent of the nation’s foreign born population is illegal, though researchers say that the percentage in Georgia could be twice that number. Those who are in the country legally may be refugees, students with visas or employees with work permits or just out and out criminals and drug dealers.

Metro Atlanta emerged as one of the primary illegal immigrant drop zones of the Clinton era. Long after the sanctuary city wallabies such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston saw noticeable decreases in the influx of illegal immigrants, Atlanta continued to see increases in the flow of foreigners, legal and illegal. One of the most interesting, or disturbing, trends in the most recent upsurges of illegal immigrant migration as been the settlement of the illegal’s in the suburbs rather than the urban core, with large enclaves residing in Cherokee, Gwinnett, Dekalb and Cobb counties.

Illegal being the optimum word here.

2005 to 2007 saw a 10 percent increase in the flow of documented immigrants into Atlanta, though it still remains to be seen whether this level of immigrant’s influx will increase or drop off. Some researchers have their doubts, pointing to a once overheated real estate market that has eaten its own tail, to a vigorous push by Georgia lawmakers from both parties to tighten the screws on illegal immigrants by enforcing the law instead of ignoring it.

The struggles of surviving in a one of the worst recessionary times in current memory has negated the argument to provide a free education, free health services and unearned citizen rights to the hordes of illegal’s that have attempted to crush the national sovereignty of the United States. Without any practical political support from a legal population that has grown angry at the Progressive attempt to circumvent the Constitutional path to citizenship, the morally bankrupt argument of opening America’s borders to the dregs and misbegotten of the Third World has reached a boiling point that political parties of all ideologies can only ignore at their own risk.

To paraphrase Barack Obama’s former toady in chief, Ralm Emanuel, a crisis shouldn’t be wasted, which in the case of the illegal immigrant landslide that has been crushing the rights and opportunities of legal American workers of all races, our most current great recession does have a silver lining. The real world that Conservatives live in – the world of law, the world of earning your way and respecting the idea of America – has now proven itself right in the harsh light of day.

Perhaps the salad days of treating America as a cash cow to send money back to the motherland is over. Perhaps, also, the days of treating America as a breakaway Mexican province are over. Indeed, perhaps the future is dawning when we can stop referring to my home town as Atlanta on the Rio Grande.

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