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Illegal immigration must be stopped

By Staff
Marc Keahey
State Senator
Illegal immigration is negatively impacting this country, this state and my district.  Each of us has seen the impact with our own eyes, and it is something that concerns me.  I understand that stopping illegal immigration is something that can only be accomplished by Congress in Washington; however, I am committed to taking steps right here at home that address this issue in strong terms.
Like everyone, I understand the important role that immigrants have played in the building of the United States.  They created the great melting pot that is the strength and the backbone of our democracy.  But our country was built with legal immigration, not illegal immigration.
Clearly, people from all over the world want to be a part of the greatest democracy and the greatest country ever conceived on this earth.  That is an undeniable attraction.  But we have in place a process, a legal process, by which immigrants can enter our country and attain citizenship.  That is the right way to do it.
Those who defy the law, who refuse to follow that legal process, who come to our states and counties illegally must be dealt with accordingly and with the full force of the law.  And if there is a role the state of Alabama can play in deterring illegal immigration, then we must embrace that role and implement those policies and laws needed.
That is why that I am supporting four bills that crack down on illegal immigrants, prevent those with state contracts from hiring illegals and revoke the business license of those who violate federal law by hiring illegal workers.
First, we must prevent anyone receiving a state contract from hiring illegal workers. At a time when Alabama workers are facing 11 percent unemployment we need to make sure that state contract jobs and state wages are going to Alabamians and not illegal workers.  If you receive a state contract, then you are going to use legal workers.  We are not going to use state taxpayers’ money to fund the jobs of illegal immigrants.  That is wrong, and I will vote to stop that.
Two, we must crack down on those businesses who hire illegal workers by revoking the business license of businesses that are found to have violated federal law regarding pattern and practice of hiring illegals. We aren't after employers who make a mistake in their hiring.  What we are after are those employers who deliberately, time and time again, knowingly hire illegal workers rather Alabamians.  If there is a consistent pattern of hiring illegals, then you are not going to do business in Alabama, period.
Three, we must prohibit illegals from getting public benefits.  I support legislation that requires proof from anyone age 19 or older that they are in our country legally before obtaining a wide variety of government benefits, such as welfare, unemployment compensation and public housing from an Alabama city, county or state agency.
Alabama budgets are in crisis right now, and government at all levels is struggling to provide the services our people depend upon.  We have to make absolutely sure that public benefits are going to Alabama citizens only, both to help them and to save tax money.  Only legal workers are entitled to assistance, not illegal ones.  Preventing illegals from receiving government assistance is the right thing to do for the taxpayers of our state, who have to foot the bill for these benefits.
Finally, I support legislation that will mandate that any person arrested for DUI or a felony will be denied bail without proof of citizenship or proof they are in the country legally.  This bill is just plain Alabama common sense.  If Alabama has an illegal immigrant in jail, he should not be freed.  Why on earth would you let them go free?  If they can't prove that are in this country legally, then they should stay in jail until they are sent back home.
It is time we get tough on those who continuously and knowingly violate the law and hire illegal immigrants.