News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Don't legalize illegal people who enter United States

In a March 17 newsletter to Alabama voters, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, says he's tested the breadth and depth of sentiment back home to stop illegal immigration.

The issue came up at every meeting he held during a recent trip home, he said.

"Alabamians, I have heard your concerns and I will continue to work to represent your interests," he said.

Over the weekend, some 500,000 people rallied in Los Angeles against tough legislation pending in Congress. Smaller rallies took place in other cities in support of the 11 million to 12 million illegal workers estimated to be in the United States.

Other members of Congress went home on spring break, too, and many of them got the same message as Sen. Shelby: Americans are not against immigration, but they want illegal entry into the country stopped.

Sen. Shelby said he wants the flow halted before Congress works out any compromise on House-passed legislation. He also said he does not support amnesty for illegal immigrants.

But President Bush again Monday called for a "guest worker" program that would essentially give amnesty. Other proposals give illegal workers the opportunity to earn legal status.

Keeping these workers in the country is an economic issue. They perform work at wages lower than U.S. citizens demand. At the same time, they put a tremendous burden on tax-paid social services, including public schools, in a cycle that amounts to a subsidy for business people.

But the greater issues include the United States' ability to control its borders and if ours is truly a nation of laws.

Ignoring the problem only makes it worse and encourages more illegal immigrants to become part of an underground economy that's full of abuses.

It's time for Congress to act or states will try to control the problem. Both houses of the Georgia Legislature passed a tough bill and Decatur Rep. Micky Hammon has legislation he thinks will address the problem in Alabama.

Sen. Shelby heard correctly on his recent visit. Alabamians are deeply concerned. They are angry, too, that the nation continues to fight a war against terrorists but isn't willing to protect our southern border.

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