An open letter to Gov. Robert Bentley

Published 6:14pm Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dear Governor Bentley:

This is a critical time in Alabama. It calls for leadership of the highest order, which includes vision, courage, strength and boldness. I call upon you to provide that leadership.

Alabama’s immigration law is a growing weight pressing down on our economy, our government and our people. It is adversely impacting every Alabamian whether or not they know it. In my opinion, the damage will multiply with each passing moment.

Governor Bentley, I believe that the only course to stop the multiplying damage is to repeal HB56, the Alabama immigration law that has placed this state in danger. Tweaking the law will not stop the damage. Even significant changes will not stop the damage. The only course is to repeal HB56.

As you know, the Alabama immigration law was designed to be the toughest in the nation. It is the toughest in the nation, but it is also the worst in the nation. In trying to make the lives of undocumented immigrants intolerable, HB56 is making all our lives worse HB56 has become a worldwide symbol of what’s wrong with Alabama. In one fell swoop, this law dredges up Alabama’s tortured racial past and has plastered it across media headlines. It taps into things from our past that we have struggled mightily to overcome. We all know too well how economic development and job growth in Alabama were hindered in the 1950s and 1960s because of that image. Alabama is again facing those same perceptions half a century later. HB56 is adversely impacting all our lives. Our children are afraid because they may have to prove citizenship to attend school. Auto owners have to stand in line for hours to secure tags. The law requires every voter prove his or her citizenship. Foreign businessmen are being arrested and cited for violation of the law, including a German with Mercedes and a Japanese with Honda.

Religious leaders are caught between jail and Hell, with one priest already having been wrongly arrested. Our law enforcement is endangered because their liability has increased while their resources are decreasing. Motorists are unprotected because liability insurance policies held by undocumented immigrants are voidable even after an accident and even if the policy is paid in full. The law expressly carves out an exception that makes it legal for Alabamians to hire undocumented immigrants as domestic workers in their homes or as landscapers for their yards.

But this same law makes it illegal for those maids, nannies and yard workers to drive to work, secure liability insurance, get vaccinations and more. Farmers are struggling because their crops are rotting in the fields since workers have fled to other states. Many have already lost one crop and cannot survive financially if they lose another. Agriculture is the largest industry in Alabama.

Businesses are fearful because affidavits are required for each entity doing business in Alabama. Certain companies in Alabama may have to file up to 75,000 affidavits annually. Businesses can have their licenses suspended for one minor violation, which would put some out of business, costing the jobs of everyone they employ. Government employees are fearful because they face liability and are being harassed by citizens frustrated by HB56. Immigrants who want to leave Alabama are unable to sell their homes or other possessions because they cannot enter into contracts.

Alabama’s large tourism industry, which already took a hit with the BP oil spill, will be hit even harder without action.

Governor, it takes vision to see the disastrous impacts that await us because of HB56 just as it takes vision to see the continued growth and development in Alabama if the law is repealed. I know you are capable of envisioning both. It takes courage to do what is right regardless of the political consequences.

However, I predict the political consequences of acting will ultimately be positive rather than negative. It takes strength to stand up to those who feed on our fears and are hell bent on taking

Alabama backward instead of forward. It takes boldness to stand strongly for full repeal rather than making changes in the law that will not end the rampant damage HB56 has unleashed. Even if there are provisions that you feel strongly must be addressed in Alabama law, they should be enacted in a new law rather than retained in HB56.

Governor Bentley, if you employ vision, courage, strength and boldness, Alabamians will stand with you. Alabama will be the better for it, and you will be hailed far and wide for your leadership. Please lead us now so Alabama will move forward rather than backwards.

  • D-man

    his article is “politics as usual” and has nothing to do with what is best for the country.

    the truth is that more than 2 out of 3 immigrants vote republican.

    i’d bet that the inneficient law that the allows babies born here to automatically be citizens was initiated by democrats.

    to bad people won’t see the real motives behind this article.

    the truth is that if they are here illegally, they are cashing their checks at the bank and not paying taxes, nor are they even spending most of the money here to support hte local economy.. they are mailing a good bit of money back to mexico supporting mexico’s economy. i am not for amnesty because once they get in the habit of cashing that check at the bank and not paying taxes, they will never pay taxes, yet will then be able to drain the public system through entitlements.

    people need to wake up and realise that the u.s. is the easiest country to be in to be an illegal immigrant, it’s not about color, or hurting someone because of where they come from, it’s about making good decisions that help us become a better country.

    • D-man

      woah.. i need to actually read what i right before posting..

      “two out of three immigrants vote democrat”…

      that is what this article is really about.. not about color or what is best for the country.. it’s bout power, even if it costs the country and raises our taxes to support a failing private sector jobs industry…

  • popdukes12

    My son has a guy that works with him that has been here five years illegally and has been using a social security card he bought somewhere. He never files taxes. Last year he felt so comfortable, he brought his wife (who is pregnant) and his three sons(ages 6-9) up to live with him. These are very nice people and the kids are the best behaved you will ever see. The kids can speak a little english and the mother can’t speak a word of English. The kids all say “thank you” and come over and shake hands when they first see you and when they leave. They had Thanksgiving dinner with us. The INS cleaned out the trailer park they live in a couple of months ago, but missed them (they moved that night). They don’t have any plans on going back until they are caught. His attitude sounded like the words form a Bob Dylan song, ” When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to loose”. pops

    • mo-of-thesame

      They may be nice people but they are still criminals, don’t pay taxes and are taking jobs from Americans.

      Folks say they do work we won’t do but in these difficult times perhaps that attitude is changing.

      Let’s take folks off the welfare and unemployment rolls and put them to work. Tax payers rather than tax beneficiaries. Those of us in the 5% are sick and tired of carrying those who don’t produce.

      To use the good Senators phrase we are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. The revolution begins in 2012 to take this country back!

  • mo-of-thesame

    What part of illegal does the good senator not understand? Why should someone who breaks the rules be treated the same as someone who follows them.

    We should all play by the same rules. I had always thought the senator was about equality but it seems from his plea to the Governor that he believes that those who do not follow the rules should be treated better than those who do not.

    With regards to the executives at the automobile manufactures the truth is they did not have their driver’s license and green card in their possession when stopped. They should have received a citation just as every other citizen. Both subsequently had the charges dropped but that is not news!

    One can only assume he is using the same logic that having to show a photo ID to vote is wrong. Only those who are cheating the system will not be allowed to vote. One can only imagine how that can change elections in the Blackbelt. And he is now advocating that illegal aliens should be allowed to vote too. I guess he is hopinfg they will vote for him and others who have lost power in his party.

    Unemployment is on the decline now that the illegals are fleeing Alabama. Let another state subsidize these criminals. I applaud the Governor and the new legislators who have the courage to stand up for those who pay taxes and follow the law…. We are allowed to vote and need to continue to support those who support us and wisely spend our hard earned tax dollars.

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