Editorial: Economy, labor force await reforms

Dec. 11, 2012 @ 07:33 PM

Recent tabulations of the number of legal and illegal immigrants in the United States are among the first signs the day whites are no longer the majority in the country is getting a delay.

Observers still believe the date is coming, but it is no longer expected for white children by 2023 and for the overall white population in 2042.

The significance lies with a Congress that has been slow to reform immigration laws, states and especially Sun Belt states that have taken or tried to take control of the matter, and a labor force about to enter two decades of an era never before seen.

By 2030, baby boomers in specialized and managerial roles will be all but retired, or in their mid-60s about to leave a work force projected to be shrinking. Mexican immigrants have plugged gaps since the 1990s, filling low-paying jobs in agriculture and health care.

North Carolina’s approach to immigration law has officially stalled. A committee last week issued its end of the year recommendation for the 2013 General Assembly. They said to wait on Congress.

The committee heard from people and groups on both sides of the immigration issue, and dozens spoke at public hearings. Home building, construction and farming are among the top industries where immigrants are significant in North Carolina’s economy, and the committee’s cautious approach is a nod to their impact.

Should redistricting maps by the GOP stay in place, North Carolina may be waiting a while to act behind a Congressional move. The state’s Republicans are poised for a decade-long run in part for their ability to draw.

Jobs, education and health care are key issues for immigrants, and they tend not to mind a bigger government. While they don’t identify with a party, parties are identifiable on those issues. And the GOP, at the state and national level, is in recalculate mode with respect to immigrants.

Our Congress of today lumbers along to make any choices. We won’t be surprised to see individual lawmakers propose bills in Raleigh during 2013, but we would be shocked to see any enacted in front of action from Washington.