By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, August 3, 2016, local leaders from Birmingham, Troy, Livingston, and Montgomery came together for a Day of Action to rally and showcase new research on immigration contributions in Alabama and highlight what they claim is a critical need for immigration reform. The event was sponsored by the Partnership for a New American Economy (NAE).
The Executive Director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, Isabel Rubio said, “We cannot ignore the value that immigrant entrepreneurs make in Alabama’s economy, we must continue to work towards comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken immigration system.”
The Reason for Reform campaign brings together state business, civic, and cultural leaders to urge Congress to take action on immigration reform.
Wednesday’s Montgomery Day of Action event coincides with the release of a new research, including data on the foreign-born population in Alabama, documenting their tax contributions, their spending power, and their role in Alabama’s key industries as leaders and job creators. The NAE is also launching a new mobile tool that lets users make a video telling their Reason for Reform. Videos will be sent directly to Congress.
The group claim that immigrants make up over 7 percent of the state’s population and contributed $436 million in taxes, or 8.6 percent of the total share in 2014. That same year, immigrants earned nearly $1.8 billion, or more than 8 percent of all income earned by Alabama residents.
Immigrant and small business owner Sieu Tangs said, “The immigrant is so important to this country, I came here with nothing, but now I have more than 50 employees and 15 locations in the United States because I worked very hard. High skilled sewing is important, I hope the US will someday provide skill job training for these immigrants, then they will be able to get these jobs. Immigrants really help this country with the economy, and also in different ways, I know many who serve in our military and they love our country.”
Troy University Dean of International Programs, Dr. Judson Edwards said, “Right now in Alabama for that 1 unemployed STEM educated person there are 11 job openings, what this explains is that there are many job opportunities that immigrants will play a critical role in filling these positions. This has nothing to do with legal or illegal immigrants, the need is to have a smart focused immigration policy for our state to be successful.” According to Edwards 43 percent of the PhDs in Alabama are a foreign born immigrant in a STEM related field.
Critics, including Alabama’s US Senator Jeff Sessions (R) argue that the flood of immigrants (both legal and illegal) actually depress wages, increase the demand for expensive entitlements and increases poverty for both the immigrants and native born Americans.
Sen. Sessions addressed the Republican National Convention and said, “Our voters spoke clearly on two critical issues in our primaries: trade and immigration. They affirmed Donald Trump and his positions. They oppose Obamatrade. They demand a lawful system of immigration that protects their safety and their financial well-being.”
Sen. Sessions said that, “Average Americans have been the first to know something is wrong with this economy. Our middle class is steadily declining, with our African American and Hispanic communities being hurt the most. But, the Washington establishment, the media, and big corporations have been in denial.”
Sen. Sessions said, “When we bring in more workers than we have jobs for that job prospects and wages will fall.” “We lawfully admit 1.1 million permanent residents annually, more than any other country. In addition, we have 700,000 foreign guest workers taking jobs. The majority of these are not seasonal or agricultural. There are about 350,000 people who succeed in crossing our borders illegally each year, and almost 500,000 more unlawfully overstay their visas. These are extreme numbers. But the only solution from Obama and Hillary Clinton is to capitulate to the lawlessness and give amnesty and citizenship to all.”
Alabama Constitutional Conservatives Co-Founder and Donald Trump Delegate Deanna Frankowski was skeptical. Frankowski told the ‘Alabama Political Reporter’: “Why should immigration be reformed when the current immigration laws are not enforced? Unless and until the immigration laws currently in effect are enforced what good does it do to make new laws? Currently, there are sanctuary cities they take federal funding in violation of immigration law. In 1986, when President Ronald Reagan did an overhaul of the immigration laws the taxpayers were promised that if amnesty was given that it would fix everything, it didn’t. Who can guarantee that the any changes to be our immigration law would be enforced?”
The Reason for Reform campaign launched 55 events in all 50 states on Wednesday urging Congress to take action on immigration reform.
More information can be found at: www.ReasonForReform.org