12 October 2011

Alabama knows how to handle immigration and the jobs crisis


Alabama's new law on illegal immigration has been the talk of the nation. The President has sought the law's demise and misguided religious liberals have pushed for it to be overturned, yet Alabamians are squarely behind the Governor on this issue. Now, I'm a native Alabamian. Most of my formative years were spent here, though most of my adult life thus far has been spent outside of the State. It would be easy to suggest, therefore, that I am biased towards the law, and that would be a true assumption. The opponents of the law claim that the illegals are coming over here seeking a better life, and that is likely true. But how can we allow that at the expense of others? How can we tolerate that to be done at the expense of the people in the State of Alabama who, especially in this time of great economic turmoil, are seeking a better life? As Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches us about charity, I realize we are called to help people, I realize we are unable to help everyone, and I realize that we should help those who are closest to us first.

Illegal aliens cost the people of Alabama around $300 million each year. This is a tremendous burden to be borne for those who come across the border in a manner that is against the law, work for money to send back to Mexico or wherever they are from, reap our benefits, and take jobs away from citizens and legal immigrants, get into automobile accidents without insurance, cause a rise in crime, and much, much more. Yes, they want a better life, but so do the people of Alabama.

And what has happened as a result of this immigration bill? Illegals have fled, or at least gone into hiding waiting to see if the President's efforts to foil the rights of Alabama to govern itself will succeed. Of course, the federal judge assigned to hear the case has largely sided with the Governor of Alabama. 

The town of Albertville, which had an hispanic population of around 20%, had 35 students withdraw from school in one day. Shelby County, just south of Birmingham, had 20 students leave. (Read more here.)  Illegals, even if they have gone into hiding, have left their jobs...which, again, they held illegally. What has happened as a result? Citizens and legal immigrants who were out of work now have jobs. At one fell swoop Alabama has made a significant step forward for dealing with the problems of illegal immigration and of unemployment. People who have been out of work for a long time, in some cases well over a year, are now able to have a real chance at employment...now that the practice of hiring illegal immigrants is illegal. So much for the theory that illegal immigrants do the jobs that the "rest of us" do not want to do. One need only look to the jobs done on Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs television program to see that plenty of even white multi-generation citizens will do the jobs that need to be done.

It is worth mentioning, though, that the 1982 Supreme Court ruling requires children of illegal immigrants to be educated. The goal of the Alabama law is not to force children of illegal immigrants out of schools or consign them to a permanent underclass status. The point of the law is to protect the sovereignty of Alabama and the rights of her people.

And what of the radical liberal Christians who say it is un-Christian to turn away the illegal immigrants? I ask, rather, is it Christian to demand that the people of Alabama (or of any State) bear the burden for those who have such little respect for the laws of the land that they enter the country illegally, take jobs that could have gone to a long-unemployed Alabamian, etc.? I say that it is not Christian for the people of Alabama to bear the burden of immigration. Just like the illegal immigrants, Alabamians are seeking a better life, perhaps now more than ever. We cannot sacrifice those closest to us and consider ourselves to have done our Christian duty to our people. We should at the same time welcome immigrants who have come here legally, and we should have reasonable programs for such immigration that provide the opportunity of immigration to as many as possible, but only as many as the United States or any particular State can handle. Immigrants ought not only receive benefits, but they ought to contribute to the country, to the State, and to their community. Immigration can be a great benefit to all people, if done correctly. Christian charity is for everyone, not just immigrants.

Alabama has set a model law for immigration reform and taking steps to solve unemployment problems. It is time for other States to adopt such laws.