By Sam Rolley
The Cullman Times
Alabama Sen. Scott Beason (R-District 17) spoke at the Cullman County Republican Party breakfast on Saturday, focusing on the topic of illegal immigration and how he believes lawmakers can resolve the issue.
The senator said that he believes that Alabama lawmakers are behind in enacting tough immigration laws — but that more Republican control throughout the state will allow immigration legislation to take precedent.
“Democrats do not want to solve the illegal immigration problem because they know, this is a fact, that when more illegal immigrants move into an area, when their children grow up and get the chance to vote, they vote for Democrats,” he said. “They like big government, they like programs, they’ve benefited from the day they were born because the child was born into poverty because mom and dad are poor.”
The senator said that by avoiding influence from liberal groups and taking a conservative and proactive approach, legislators will be able to reform immigration laws quickly and effectively.
“Liberals are always going to want to create their utopia — if they just have a little bit more tax money, if they just let a few more illegal immigrants in— they would just create this wonderful melting pot and it would all be beautiful and we’d run through the field of flowers. Well that’s not going to happen, and we have to have polices that are going to work.”
With strong GOP support, Beason is poised to introduce bills designed to fortify immigration laws in the state when the Legislature convenes its regular session in March. He said that Republicans that do not support immigration reform efforts may fail to do so because they are supported by businesses who utilize illegal workers as a cheap labor source.
Beason discussed issues that arose in the Legislature in 2007 when lawmakers worked to establish an immigration reform study commission that he said was hindered by political gerrymandering.
“What had happened was that Ken Guin had changed the resolution,” he said. “Where I had people appointed to the commission from the Attorney General’s office, from DHR, from all these state agencies who knew what was going on in the state. But they took all of them off and gave appointments and made it a completely political body and appointed all of these big business guys, think about it.”
The senator discussed immigration laws that have been passed in the state so far, but said that the have been inadequate and poorly enforced. He focused mainly on Alabama’s enforcement of the 287(g) program, which is a federal program that allows local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws. The program’s purpose is to allow officers to detain immigrants who are arrested for non-immigration offenses and transfer them to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“We have more 287(g) officers than any state in the nation, we’re dealing with it,” he said. “But here’s the rest of the story, our 287(g) agreement that was entered by the Governor’s office doesn’t allow our State Troopers to go on any job site anywhere or to stop somebody anywhere and check to see if they’re legal.”
According to the senator, 287(g) has deported about 60 illegal immigrants in the state, which he said pales in comparison to 287(g) deportation numbers in other states.
“The reality is that if you allow illegal immigration to continue in your area you will destroy yourself eventually,” said Beason. “If you don’t believe illegal immigration will destroy a community go and check out parts of Alabama around Arab and Albertville.”
After hearing the senator’s take on Albertville’s illegal immigrant problem, mayor Lindsey Lyons said that he felt the assessment was harsh.
“I think that is going a little overboard to say that this has destroyed our community (Alberville),” Lyons said in a follow up telephone interview. “But, it has created a lot of challenges for us and we would love to see legislation that tackles the issue. I think that we are going to see that representatives from our area will be very eager to work with Senator Beason on this issue.”
Arab mayor Gary Beam said that he had not seen an extreme immigration problem in his city.
“We don’t have the type of industry in Arab that usually attracts a lot of illegal workers to an area,” he said. “I know there is an illegal immigration problem in this country, but Arab is not an area that has been devastated by this.”
Beason closed by saying that illegal workers are destroying the national economy in more subtle ways than taking jobs from American citizens.
“The illegals are always praised for sending money back home, ‘they are so great’, ‘such family people’,” he said. “But why is it right for them to send billions of dollars home, before they even try to buy some health insurance here that you and I pay for— it doesn’t make them sound so wonderful does it? They’re basically saying, no we’re going to keep the money and you’re going to pay for what I need.”
Beason ended his speech by advising Republicans to “empty the clip, and do what has to be done”.
* Sam Rolley can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 225.