Driving through Putnam County last week on my way to pick apples, I saw sign after sign denouncing immigrants along the roadway. Each had the name “Greg Ball” at the bottom.
Hudson Valley Assemblyman Greg Ball is very proud of his record on immigration. In fact, he never misses an opportunity to let the press know what he is doing to stigmatize and harass immigrants.
For example, Ball’s website touts his sponsorship Assembly Bill 7052 which, he says, “requires anyone admitted to SUNY be a citizen legally admitted to the United States”. While his description of his bill appears to make even the legal permanent resident ineligible for a SUNY education, let us assume he just did a poor job of describing his own bill. In fact, the bill would prevent young immigrants freshly graduated from high school from attending SUNY if, while they were children, their parents brought them to the United States illegally. The bill’s intention of punishing young people for what their parents did is cowardly.
When the issue of day laborers was hot in his district two years ago, Ball’s supporters circulated posters implying that the Latinos looking for work on street corners just might be terrorists.
In 2009, Ball invited the media to accompany him on a “raid” on a campsite in which a half dozen homeless Latinos tried to scratch out a living. Greg Ball issued a press release in which he dramatically announced that he had toured the “tragic, abject squalor” of day labor encampments around Brewster, N.Y. He described the conditions of the camp sites as a “human tragedy” and said that the living and working conditions of the day laborers whom he says sleep in the campsites “exploits illegal aliens.” Ball asks “Where is the humanity?” Where indeed.
While Ball assumed a Dickensian pose of exposing the presumed exploitation of immigrants, his only solution to their precarious situation was to remove their meager possessions, arrest and deport them. But of course, Assemblyman Ball’s purpose is not to help the downtrodden, but to join in their exploitation, not for financial gain but for political advantage.
In 2008, Assemblyman Ball tried to frighten voters with a claim that 30% of criminals in state jails are “illegal immigrants.” The state responded that the undocumented make up 4% of the state jail population. In fact, foreign born all together only make up about 10% of the prison population. In other words, immigrants are committing crimes at rates below their proportion of the population.
Greg Ball has tried to rise by trampling on the reputation of immigrants and the rights of their children.
Ball is now running for State Senate. He recently beat his opponent in the Republican primary by identifying himself as the Tea Party candidate.
Ball is trying to assemble a small political machine based on anti-immigrant politics. His handpicked replacement Steve Katz was embarrassed recently when he was outted for advertising his veterinary business in Spanish while crusading for English-Only. Ball’s Putnam ally, Town Supervisor Mike Rights invited some humiliation after he used a deadly drunk driving incident to pillory Latino immigrants when it was revealed that he had been cited twice for drinking and driving.
Ball’s campaign video, seen below, has been criticized for its use of Latino workers as unpaid human props: