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Reactions to Executive Amnesty

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

BIRMINGHAM—On November 4, the American people rejected President Barack H. Obama’s policies up and down the ballot. On November 20, Obama struck back and declared an unprecedented amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants as well as changes to America’s immigration laws to allow in more legal immigrants.

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead said what many Americans believe when he said in a statement: “Obama’s Executive Order is clearly illegal and in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R from Alabama) echoed Armistead’s opinion in his own written statement. Alabama’s senior Senator said, “President Obama’s plan to unilaterally grant amnesty to millions of individuals who have broken our nation’s immigration laws is unconstitutional and must not be tolerated. If the President truly believed that this approach was in the best interest of the American people, he would not have waited until after the election to make this long-anticipated announcement.”

Sen. Shelby said, “I strongly oppose providing amnesty to those who have entered our country illegally. Border security, enforcement, and removal must be the first response to illegal immigration. President Obama’s failure to enforce our nation’s immigration laws has led us to where we are today and his decision to reward lawlessness with amnesty places additional undue burdens on the American people.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R from Alabama) unveiled his own plan to thwart the President’s unilateral edicts. Sen. Sessions called on Americans and their Representatives to stand up and make their voices heard. Sen. Sessions said, “It is time to stand strong for the American people. It is time to champion the interests of those constantly neglected on the question of immigration: the men and women and children we represent—the citizens of this country to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance. Every American must ask their Senator where they stand.”

Congressman Bradley Byrne (R from Montrose) said in a statement, “This type of Executive Action is not the way our government is supposed to operate. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to push back against this action in a meaningful and constructive manner. We will not stand by idly and allow the President to continue to act against the intentions of the Constitution and the will of the American people.”

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Congresswoman Martha Roby (R from Montgomery) said, “President Obama believes he is above the law – above our Constitution, and that he alone can rule this country. That’s not just wrong, it’s dangerous. And every American who believes in our way of life ought to be outraged.”

Congressman Mike Rogers (R from Saks) said in a statement, “President Obama’s decision to essentially legalize up to five million illegal immigrants by Executive Order is nothing short of an unprecedented presidential overreach. This immigration crisis is of the president’s own making, and in signing this order, he has significantly escalated it further.”

Congressman Spencer Bachus (R from Vestavia) said on Twitter, “Acting unilaterally on immigration, President is dividing, rather than uniting to reach consensus. Like Obamacare, serves the public poorly.”

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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in an email to supporters: “President Obama just announced an unconstitutional executive action granting amnesty to millions. The Constitution does not grant the President the power to act as a one-man legislature when he disagrees with Congress and with voters — but that didn’t stop President Obama. The last time the President issued an executive order to change our immigration laws, he created a crisis at our border, leaving thousands of children at risk and ripping apart the families he claims to be protecting today. President Obama’s action does not secure our borders, and his action violates our country’s balance of power. The American people rejected the administration’s policies during the midterms; and now President Obama is resorting to breaking the Constitution for his own political gain.”

Chairman Armistead said, “As is customary with this president, he steps off the podium and retreats to one of his fun activities. Although this time it isn’t golfing, Obama will instead head to a political pep rally in Las Vegas on Friday. This president just doesn’t get it, and he apparently could not care less about what Americans think…President Obama apparently learned nothing from the beating Democrats took in the mid-term elections, when Americans stood up against his failed policies. Obama’s arrogant attitude towards Congress and American voters is unlike anything we have ever before witnessed from a President.”

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R from Pennsylvania) said in a statement, “Today’s executive order is a slap in the face of the democratic process and every voter who came out in this past November’s election.”

Representative Byrne said, “We are a nation of laws, and there would never have been a right time for executive amnesty. In the elections earlier this month, the American people indicated they want the President to work with Congress to advance solutions, not act unilaterally through executive action.”

Rep. Roby said, “Despite the president’s ill-advised decision, the American people need to know that Congress is working to make it right. We are looking at ways to stop the president before he does permanent damage to this country. We are going to fund the government, but we are not going to endorse or enable this president’s unconstitutional actions.”

Rep. Rogers said, “President Obama blames Congress for allegedly forcing him to take this extreme step because Congress did not pass his proposed comprehensive immigration reform bill. This is nonsense. The American people want the president to work with Congress to solve our immigration crisis, first, by securing our borders – not to govern by executive action.”

Rep. Byrne said, “This action will be difficult to defend; it raises serious legal questions and flies in the face of how our Founding Fathers intended our government to operate…We need a deliberate discussion on securing our borders and dealing with illegal immigrants already in the United States, but executive action from a ‘lame duck’ President is entirely the wrong approach. I encourage the President to come down from the White House and work with Congress on the immigration issue and many of the other serious issues impacting American families.”

Chairman Armistead called President Obama, “A man who has preached, but never practiced, bipartisanship is defying the will of the people by violating his oath of office and contravening the very Constitution he swore to uphold…Obama is trying to codify his illegal acts in order to stack the deck for decades to come, and enable liberal Democrats to control the United States government. He would like nothing more than to eventually make these illegal immigrants ‘legal’ voters and accomplish his end goal to ‘fundamentally transform America’,” Armistead said.

Sen. Santorum said, “We need an immigration policy that first and foremost stands for the best interest of America and the American worker. President Obama’s Executive Order providing amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants is the antithesis of this goal. At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to find work and coping with stagnant wages, the President has decided to allow an additional 5 million individuals to legally compete with the existing American labor pool – diluting wages and opportunities for American workers further. This decision flies in the face of basic principles of supply-and-demand and any interest in the welfare of the American worker.”

Democrats, meanwhile, were urged to rally to their President.

An email to Democrats timed with the announcement read: “President Obama just announced a plan to fix our broken immigration system. The GOP has promised to fight him “tooth and nail.” This is an important moment and we need to get his back.”

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Elections

Coalition of attorneys general file opposition to Alabama attempt to ban curbside voting

The AGs argue that Alabama’s suggestion to the courts that curbside voting invites fraud is “unfounded.” 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

A coalition of 17 state attorneys general have filed an opposition to Alabama’s attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to ban curbside voting. 

In a friend-of-the-court brief, led by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, the attorneys general argue to that curbside voting is safer for those at greatest risk from COVID-19, and that a ban on the practice would disproportionately impact the elderly, the disabled and Black Alabamians.

They also argue that Alabama’s suggestion to the courts that curbside voting invites fraud is “unfounded.” 

“The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, established by President Trump following the 2016 election, ‘uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud,’” the brief states, adding that there is no evidence that curbside voting in the many states that allow it invites fraud. 

“The practice is longstanding and widespread—as noted, more than half of states have historically offered curbside voting in some form,” the brief continues. 

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Oct. 13 said the state will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a federal appeals court ruling allowing curbside voting in the Nov. 3 election. 

A panel of federal appeals court judges on Oct. 13 reversed parts of U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon’s Sept. 30 ordered ruling regarding absentee voting in the upcoming Nov. 3 elections, but the judges let the previous ruling allowing curbside voting to stand. 

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The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, was brought on behalf of several Alabamians with underlying medical conditions. 

“Curbside voting is a longstanding, secure voting option that local jurisdictions have made available to protect the health of vulnerable voters, including elderly, disabled, and voters with underlying health issues,” Racine said in a statement. “Curbside voting minimizes the risk to persons who are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, and local jurisdictions should be able to offer this common-sense accommodation to voters. State Attorneys General will keep fighting to ensure that voters can safely make their voices heard at the ballot box this November.”

The brief filed by the coalition of state attorneys general comes as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Alabama has been ticking upward.

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Racine is joined in the brief by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

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News

Alabama revenues grew despite COVID pandemic, analysis shows

Tax revenue into the state’s General Fund was 7 percent higher this year the Education Trust Fund brought in an additional $209 million in 2020 compared to 2019. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Alabama’s strong economy going into the COVID-19 pandemic, and billions in federal aid to address the health and economic crisis, has helped the state’s two largest budget funds to grow this year, according to a study released Thursday. 

According to an analysis by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, tax revenue into the state’s General Fund was 7 percent higher this year than it was in 2019, and Alabama’s Education Trust Fund brought in an additional $209 million in 2020 compared to 2019. 

“According to Finance Department officials, Alabama ended 2020 with $330 million balance in the ETF and a $315 million balance in the General Fund,” wrote PARCA’s Tom Spencer in the report. “That was result both of revenues that exceeded the budgeted amounts and expenditures that were lower than what was appropriated.”

The growth came despite the spike in unemployment that began in March and hasn’t yet abated, and despite mandatory business closures in March and April and the restrictions still in place to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. 

The author of the report said the growth is due in part to the state’s strong economy before the pandemic hit. Unemployment was at a historic low between October and March, and prior to the pandemic, income tax receipts were up approximately 7 percent over the same period in 2019. 

Additionally, $4.1 billion in federal COVID-19 aid has been committed to individuals and municipalities in Alabama, and consumer spending shifted but didn’t stop, the author notes. 

The federal Paycheck Protection Program preserved payrolls, and unemployed workers received $600 per week in a supplement to unemployment insurance, which both helped prevent the state’s tax revenue from taking a bigger hit. 

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“Sales taxes dropped, then recovered and have been up and down in the months since. At the same time though, tax on internet purchases surged, offsetting the erosion in sales tax. Unlike some other states, Alabama’s sales taxes apply to groceries and medicine and thus it tends to be more stable,” Spencer wrote in the report. 

Several sectors of Alabama’s economy have done well during the pandemic, including the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board, which contributed an additional $17 million to the General Fund, an increase of 14 percent. 

But still other sectors suffered, including lodging tax. The tax on hotels and vacation rentals was down 15 percent for the year, and collected almost $9 million less for the General Fund.

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“For the current fiscal year, FY 2021, Finance officials are relatively confident that revenues will more than cover the budgets. Lawmaker scaled back spending plans in light of the pandemic,” Spencer wrote in the report. “As long as there aren’t additional unforeseen shocks to the economic system, the Alabama economy should generate the revenue needed to make the budgets as adopted this spring.”

If the state’s economy were to take a larger hit, Spencer noted, the state still has rainy day funds for both funds. 

RESERVE FUND BALANCES

  • ETF Budget Stabilization Fund – $373,269,077
  • ETF Rainy Day Account – $465,421,670
  • GF Budget Stabilization Fund – $27,297,483
  • GF Budget Rainy Day Account – $232,939,781

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Featured Columnists

Opinion | Electing Tuberville could cost Alabama billions

If your conscience or decency isn’t enough, vote your wallets.

Josh Moon

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Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, right.

Money matters in Alabama. Oh, I know that we’re not supposed to say that out loud. That we’re supposed to promote our image of southern grace and hospitality, of churchiness and care, of rich people never getting into heaven. 

But the truth is greed is our biggest character flaw in this state. 

Every problem we have can be traced back to our unending thirst for dollars. Our ancestors didn’t keep slaves because they hated black people. They did it because they loved money and the difference in skin color gave them an excuse — a really, really stupid excuse — to mistreat other humans to take advantage of the free labor. 

Our rivers and lakes and dirt aren’t filled with poisons from factories because we’re too dumb to understand how this works. They’re that way because our politicians are paid off to turn a blind eye to the dumping of toxic waste. 

Our schools aren’t terrible because we have dumb kids or bad teachers. It’s because we’re too cheap to pay for them. 

You see what I mean? It’s our lust for the almighty dollar. Every time. 

We love money. 

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Which makes me seriously wonder why so many people in this state are going to vote for a man who will cost us all — and especially our biggest businesses — so much of it. 

Tommy Tuberville will be like a money vacuum for Alabama. Billions of dollars will vanish for this welfare state that relies so much on federal contracts, federal programs and federal dollars. 

If you doubt this, don’t simply take my word for it. Just Google up the press releases from Sen. Richard Shelby’s office from the last, say, six years — the most recent span in which Republicans have controlled the Senate. 

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Almost every single release is about Shelby securing millions or billions of dollars in federal funding for this project or that project, getting the state’s share of dollars from a variety of different programs and initiatives implemented by Congress. 

Shelby and I obviously have different political viewpoints, but it’s hard to argue that the man has been successful in securing money for Alabama. Lots and lots of money. 

Money for airports and roads. Money for defense contractors in Huntsville. Money for the port in Mobile. Money for car manufacturers. Money for farmers. 

Money. Money. Money. 

Shelby can do that because of three things: He’s on the right committees, he’s a member of the party in power and he’s liked by the right people.

Tuberville will be none of those things. 

Most pundits are predicting that Democrats will take over the Senate, tipping the balance of power and giving the party control of both houses and the White House. 

That automatically means that a first-time senator in the opposition party will have little to no say in any decisions. 

But what’s worse for Tuberville, and for Alabama, is that other Republicans don’t like him either. 

Establishment Republicans essentially openly campaigned against Tuberville in the primary, tossing tens of millions of dollars behind his opponent, Jeff Sessions. They even favored third-place finisher Bradley Byrne over Tuberville. 

It’s not hard to understand why — he’s clueless. 

I know that’s a Doug Jones talking point, but this one happens to be true. Let me give you an example: On Thursday, Tuberville tweeted out what was meant to be a shot at Jones, claiming that Alabama’s current senator wouldn’t meet with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee because Jones knows “he won’t have much time in the Senate to work with her.”

If you’re unaware, the Senate doesn’t “work with” the Supreme Court. They’re separate entities. 

Combine that with his other nonsensical answers on COVID relief, school reopenings, the Voting Rights Act, senate committee assignments, education, foreign affairs — really, the list is almost endless — and it shows how little work he’s put in over the last two years to understand this job he’s applying for. 

Now, that might be just fine with Alabama voters who care more about the party affiliation and owning the libs, but it’s not OK with grownups who take the job of running the country seriously. 

And those people — both Rs and Ds — don’t like Tuberville or his here-for-an-easy-check-like-always approach to one of the most serious jobs in the world. 

He will be frozen out of the most sought after committee assignments. His voice will carry zero weight. His presence will be all but forgotten. 

And in the process, so will Alabama. Especially in two years, when Shelby retires and his senior status is lost. 

In the meantime, Jones is highly respected by senators on both sides of the aisle. He already has a presence on top committees, and is so well liked within the Democratic Party that he’s on the short list to be Joe Biden’s AG, should he not be re-elected. 

The choice seems pretty simple. On the one hand is a competent, prepared and serious statesman who knows how to maneuver his colleagues to get the most for the state. On the other hand is an unprepared, uncaring, lazy carpetbagger who doesn’t understand any process. 

If your conscience or decency isn’t enough, vote your wallets.

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Health

At least 248 COVID deaths reported in Alabama in October

The cumulative death toll in Alabama has risen by 248 to 2,788 in October and by 124 in the last week alone.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

We’re a little more than halfway through the month of October and the Alabama Department of Public Health has already reported at least 248 deaths from COVID-19.

The cumulative death toll in Alabama has risen by 248 to 2,788 in October and by 124 in the last week alone.

At least 378 deaths were reported in the month of September, a rate of 12.6 deaths per day over the month. In the first 17 days of October, the rate has been 14.6 deaths per day, a 15.9 percent increase from September.

Deaths were higher in July and August. The cumulative death toll increased by 582 in August and 630 in July, the worst month of the pandemic for the state.

On Saturday, ADPH reported that 1,288 more people in the state were confirmed positive with the coronavirus, and on Sunday the count increased by 964. The number of confirmed cases in Alabama has risen to 172,626.

There have been 17,925 new cases Alabama in October alone. The state is averaging almost 996 cases per day in October, which is up from September.

The state had 28,643 new coronavirus cases in September, 38,335 cases new cases in August, and 49,678 cases in July. Public health officials credit Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s statewide mask order on July 15 with slowing the spread of the virus in the state, but the virus has not gone away.

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ADPH reported 823 hospitalizations for COVID-19 on October 17, the most recent day for which we have data. While hospitalizations for COVID-19 are down from the peaks in early August in Alabama have risen from Oct. 1 when 748 Alabamians were hospitalized, a 10 percent increase from the first of the month.

The state of Alabama is continuing to struggle to protect its most vulnerable citizens. At least 6,497 residents of long term care facilities in Alabama have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, 247 of them in October.

There have also been 3,362 cases among long term care workers in Alabama, including 197 in the month of October. Some 9,819 Alabama health care workers have also contracted the coronavirus.

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Most people who test positive for the novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, are asymptomatic or have only minor symptoms, but in about one out of five cases it can become much more severe.

For older people or people with underlying medical conditions like obesity, heart disease, asthma, cancer, diabetes or HIV, COVID-19 can turn deadly. COVID-19 is the abbreviated name for the medical condition caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Some 1,115,600 people worldwide have died from COVID-19 worldwide, including 224,284 Americans. There are 8,972,704 known active cases in the world today.

Public health officials warn citizens that coronavirus remains a present danger in our community. Social distancing is the best way to avoid spreading the virus. Avoid venues with large groups. Don’t shake hands or hug persons not living in your household.

Avoid leaving your home as much as possible and wear a mask or cloth face covering when you do go out. Avoid touching your face and wash your hands with soap frequently. Hand sanitizer is recommended.

A coronavirus vaccine may be available in the coming months, but we don’t yet know when or how effective it will be.

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