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Commentary

I Love That Episode of The Simpsons! Oh Wait-You Were Talking About Real-Life Immigration Policy


     
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Have you ever seen the old episode of The Simpsons where the townspeople vote to deport all the illegal immigrants? It’s truly brilliant: the episode starts with an uproar about a bear that wanders into town. Homer complains that “its like a freakin’ country bear jamberoo” in Springfield and silences Ned Flanders, who protests that it’s the first bear he’s seen in Springfield. Homer whips up the townspeople and they march to City Hall, demanding that mayor Diamond Joe Quimby do something about the bears.

Mayor Quimby gets decisive and starts the “Bear Patrol.” The citizens are happy with the Bear Patrol, which is doing a great job solving a non-problem; however, they are upset with the additional taxes they have to pay. Again faced with a screaming mob, Mayor Quimby decides that “ducking this issue calls for real leadership” and convinces the townspeople that their problems are the fault of illegal immigrants. It’s a great episode that ends with illegal immigrant Apu earning his citizenship (and Groundskeeper Willie being deported). The Simpsons revisited the “illegal immigration” theme a few years ago as Homer led the “Star-Spangled Goofballs” in their efforts to deal with the flood of Norwegian-descended immigrants from neighboring Ogdenville.

And now, life is imitating art. An episode of The Simpsons is coming to life in laws passed in Arizona and Alabama that are supposed to crack down on illegal immigration. The New York Times reports that parts of the Alabama law were upheld in court. In a story on the decision, the Times quotes Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s statement that as a result of the ruling, Alabama has “the strongest immigration law in the country.”

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Art Carden is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California, and Assistant Professor of Economics at Samford University.
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