Florida State Senator JD Alexander
State-level patriotic immigration reform died (for now) in Florida, Saturday May 7, when the state legislature adjourned for the year.
Unlike the Georgia Senate, the Florida Senate refused to back down on E-Verify until it was too late in the session to get anything done.
(Not to be too depressing, I should note that there were significant immigration patriot victories against illegal immigration in Virginia, Indiana, Alabama, and Oklahoma. But the failure in Florida is nonetheless telling).
The Florida House would have needed a 2/3 supermajority to take up the Senate bill, which was passed on Wednesday. But it wouldn`t have passed muster there anyway, because House Republicans wouldn`t have swallowed the "compromise" being offered to them.
By that point, the "Arizona-style immigration law" that was included in the Florida immigration bill had already been watered down to requiring law enforcement officers to make "a reasonable effort" to ascertain the immigration status of people who are arrested and sent to jail for other crimes.
But it wasn`t enough just to gut the Arizona-style immigration law. In the Republican-controlled Florida Senate, E-Verify for private employers had to be stripped out of the reform package altogether.
So who is to blame for the fiasco we have just witnessed?
(1) It wasn`t the fault of Florida Democrats. Although they were desperately opposed this legislation in their quest to elect a new people, they ultimately didn`t have the votes to block Arizona-style immigration reform.
(2) It wasn`t the fault (any more than usual) of Hispanic activists. These noisemakers use the same annoying tactics everywhere—for example, Georgia, where they lost.
There are only three Hispanic Republicans in the Florida Senate. And they are Cubans, not necessarily committed to Mexican Reconquista. Their opposition alone wasn`t sufficient to block reform. Ultimately, they sided with their fellow Spanish-speakers and voted against even the watered-down reform package.
(3) It wasn`t the fault of Governor Rick Scott. The bill never made it out of the Florida legislature.
Unlike Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who personally intervened to kill his state`s version of the Arizona-style immigration law, Governor Scott had been one of the more vocal supporters of immigration reform. He was certainly more supportive of it than Governor Deal turned out to be in Georgia.
(4) It wasn`t the fault of the original sponsors.
Which is generally what we have seen in every state this year. The Republican sponsors have almost always introduced the legislation that they promised in their campaigns. (One disgusting exception: Colorado State Rep. Randy Baumgardner, who withdrew his own bill citing "fiscal concerns". [Immigration Bill May Get Dropped , By Patrick Malone, Pueblo Chieftain, Feb 9, 2011]) It is their Republican colleagues entrenched in important committees who have repeatedly blocked immigration reform.
(5) It wasn`t the fault of conservatives or Republican voters. Governor Rick Scott won the Republican primary against Attorney General Bill McCollum, and later won the general election, on the popularity of his campaign promise to pass immigration reform in Florida.
Before launching into destructive criticism of conservatives and Republican voters, we need to recognize that tough new immigration laws are extremely popular with this constituency.
These people are the allies of patriotic immigration reform, not enemies. They are just as frustrated and angry about this debacle as are patriotic immigration reformers.
(6) It wasn`t the fault of Black Florida. With the exception of a few high-profile token Republican blacks like Rep. Allen West or Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, blacks in Florida are Democrats and didn`t have the legislative power to block reform.
The Republican Party of Florida had the power, the opportunity, and the mandate to pass immigration reform this year.
But it couldn`t get it done—in spite of immigration reform being a top legislative priority of Florida`s new governor.
The arch villain in this story : what I have called, in pointed reference to the earlier irrepressible conflict that culminated in the Civil War, "The Slave Power"—selfish, short-sighted and arrogant commercial interests, specifically the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Farm Bureau, and above all the citrus and blueberry growers in Central Florida who profit off the exploitation of illegal alien cheap labor and who control a number of key Republican lawmakers in the state legislature.
This is exactly what we saw happen in Georgia, where agricultural interests were the most vociferous and dangerous opponents of immigration reform. But in Georgia, populist conservatives called their bluff and emerged victorious at the last minute.
As in Georgia, Florida`s battle over immigration reform was decided over whether the Republican Caucus would side with populist conservative voters or with the state`s Slave Power, which particularly opposed the E-Verify system.
E-Verify (of all things) was the deal breaker—not the much-denounced Arizona-style immigration law. The Florida Senate was ready to sign off on the "racist papers-please law"—but "Don`t Tread on My Illegal Workforce" succeeded in scuttling the whole package.
JD Alexander (that`s his first name, not his initials) is the Senate Budget Chief, grandson of citrus magnate Ben Hill Griffin, Jr., and the Emperor of the Polk County Farm Bureau. He represents the 17th District in the Florida Senate.
Senator Alexander [Email him] has repeatedly explained his views on immigration policy to the Main Stream Media:
"`I resent that I have to be asked to choose between hardworking people and somebody`s uninformed knowledge,` said Alexander, giving his captivated colleagues a first-hand account of housing guest workers from Mexico who picked his crops two years ago. `You can`t get anybody to come do this stuff, folks. And it`s the same thing, whether it`s construction, or whether it`s hotels. Americans don`t want to do it."[Immigration bill dying in the Senate, By Patricia Mazzei and Marc Caputo, Miami Herald, May 3, 2011]
"`For all the unemployment, there just are not folks who want to come out and pick blueberries," Alexander said, for about $9 an hour.
"As I got into it more and more, I got more and more uncomfortable with it," Alexander said. "I didn`t feel morally I could make that choice. It became not a political issue but a moral issue."[Alexander: Immigration `no` vote `a moral issue, St. Petersburg Times, May 05, 2011]
"The Florida Senate stands up for hard-working folks and doesn`t do the politically expedient thing, but does the right thing," said Alexander, who employs hundreds of migrant farmworkers. "If it takes more time to get it right and more time for our federal leaders to come to some sort of reasonable solution then that may be what`s best."
Unfortunately, JD Alexander is term-limited. Floridians won`t have the opportunity to exact vengeance upon him in the 2012 elections, unless he metastasizes somewhere else.
Because of Sen. JD Alexander, we might lose the State of Florida over the price of blueberries—which are grown on all of 3,500 acres in the entire state.
In spite of Sen. JD Alexander`s claims of a "labor shortage", the Florida Blueberry Growers Association describes the 2011 Florida blueberry crop as a "bonanza" and production is now at records highs.
From 2007 t0 2009, 230,000 illegal aliens left the State of Florida, almost a quarter of the illegal alien population, more than any other state in the nation.
But the price of blueberries has gone down—because of foreign competition from Mexico and Chile.
The explosion in blueberry consumption in the United States can be attributed to diet fads that were popularized in the 1990s. The only factor preventing the expansion of blueberry acreage in Florida is the availability of cheap illegal alien labor (which is often child labor).
Twenty years ago, there was virtually no commercial production of blueberries in Florida. This year Florida will produce anywhere from 13 to 18 million pounds of blueberries.
To put this in perspective, Michigan and New Jersey produce 49 million and 45 million pounds of blueberries a year respectively; North Carolina produces 25 million pounds; Georgia, California, and Oregon produce 23 million pounds a year.
Central Florida, which JD Alexander represents in the Florida Senate, is a new frontier in blueberry production. If there wasn`t a single orange or blueberry grown on Sen. Alexander`s plantation, it wouldn`t make the slightest difference in the average price of blueberries for consumers.
Here is something interesting in Alico Agri`s 2010 Annual Statement(SEC Form 10-K) :
"Changes in immigration laws or enforcement of such laws could impact the ability of Alico to harvest its crops.
"Alico engages third parties to provide personnel for its harvesting operations. Alico communicates to such third parties its policy of employing only workers approved to work in the United States. However, Alico does not specifically monitor such compliance and the personnel engaged by such third parties could be from pools composed of immigrant labor. The availability and number of such workers is subject to decrease if there are changes in the U.S. immigration laws or by stricter enforcement of such laws. The scarcity of available personnel to harvest Alico`s agricultural products could cause Alico`s harvesting costs to increase or could lead to the loss of product that is not timely harvested which could have a materially adverse effect upon Alico."
The 10-K is supposed to warn investors of bad things that could happen to the company."Population migration" is first on the list of "risk factors" to Alico-Agri, Inc.—Chief Executive Officer: JD Alexander..
Bluntly, the Florida immigration package containing the E-Verify system was a threat to the completely unnecessary, economically marginal, immigration-subsidized expansion of blueberry and citrus imperialism in Central Florida. (Compare strawberries on California`s Central Coast).
This would have affected Alico Agri`s bottom line, Sen. JD Alexander`s personal net worth, and the profits of other members of the agribusiness planter class organized in the Florida Farm Bureau, who depend upon the neo-feudal exploitation of "cheap", taxpayer-subsidized illegal alien labor to pick sensitive crops.
Perhaps the patriot voters of Florida`s 17th Senate District thought that JD Alexander was running for public office to represent his constituents instead of the private financial interests of his company.
They were mistaken.
However, Senator Alexander tells us, the vote against E-Verify wasn`t economic issue, or even a political issue. It was a moral issue about right and wrong!
The JD Alexander story only gets more interesting as you dig deeper into his background: according to The Ledger, his company Alico Agri owes the IRS over $26 million dollars in penalties and back taxes and has been audited by the IRS for 18 of its last 20 income tax returns. [Alico Fights IRS Demand for $26.8 Million, March 18, 2011]
Yet somehow this trouble taxpayer ended up as the Senate budget chief with fiscal authority over all of Florida.
Something is rotten in the Sunshine State. And it isn`t Tamar Jacoby`s mythical "unpicked fruit."
What stinks is Sen. JD Alexander and the disproportionate influence that corrupt special interest groups like the Florida Farm Bureau wield over the political process.
What is most striking about the modern Slave Power is how it uses the same Antebellum arguments