Illegal immigration must be addressed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France to the people of the United States, was erected on Ellis Island in New York and dedicated in October of 1886. It is a symbol of freedom and opportunity and is one of America&8217;s most beloved monuments.

For more than 100 years, legal immigrants who have come to America have marveled at what this statue means. Those who have been good citizens have assimilated here without great difficulty, many even rising to positions of greatness.

Freedom and opportunity are two words not to be taken lightly considering the price of being a legal American citizen is high and comes with real responsibility.

For example, the entrance to the Rockefeller center contains a creed penned by the late John D. Rockefeller, which reads in part, &8220;I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.&8221;

One of the most complex issues facing the United States today is immigration-not immigrants who have legally entered our borders choosing liberty over oppression; rather, those who have clandestinely come here without accepting the responsibility of being a lawful citizen. And illegal immigration is now a problem well out of control. Illegals use our emergency rooms, drive on our roads, and benefit from fire and police protection-all without paying their fair share.

It&8217;s no secret that the federal government has abdicated its responsibility to establish a policy on illegal immigration with real teeth. Instead, the issue has been politicized by Congressional lawmakers from both parties. Some legislation has called for granting amnesty to those here illegally. Other legislation has proposed issuing drivers&8217; licenses to illegals who can&8217;t speak English.

These two extreme measures are not feasible nor fair. But something has to be done to curb the influx of illegals whose presence in our workforce wreaks havoc on our economy.

In past legislative sessions, I have co-sponsored bills to address some of the immigration issues that address some of the concerns expressed by my constituents. One is to deny state benefits to any person who is in this country illegally. It is not fair for someone to reap the benefits of citizenship and not contribute to the system that provides these services. If we do not end the increased spending on state social services for non-citizens we will bankrupt our state government&8217;s ability to provide benefits to legal, tax-paying Alabamians.

The second bill would penalize businesses that hire illegal immigrants. Most people agree that one of the biggest reasons for the massive influx of illegal immigration into our state has been the attractive job market. These jobs are low-paying and usually allow the worker to avoid paying taxes.

Businesses engaging in such a practice should be severely punished because they are contributing to a black market system where workers are not contributing back in taxes what the rest of the citizens in our state have been doing for years.

Unfortunately, several special interest groups prevented these bills from becoming law in past sessions.

With your support, perhaps my efforts will be successful this time around.