Recommendations Concerning Illegal Migration to the Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission (Synopsis) January 10, 2008 Hoover, Alabama Ellin Sterne Jimmerson, Ph. D., M. T. S. Premises The Alabama Legislature has no direct authority on immigration reform which is a federal issue. Passing laws and ordinances which are unconstitutional, unenforceable and will not stand up on appeal in the long run will damage Alabama’s reputation in the country and around the world. The Alabama Legislature has indirect influence on federal policy. The Alabama Legislature has direct influence on local laws and ordinances. The Alabama Legislature has direct influence on the state’s moral climate. The State of Alabama has fought to overcome its politics of race, fear and demagoguery. We have fought to overcome the legacy of slavery and segregation. We have fought to improve our reputation among the United States and throughout the world. If we revert to old-style politics, we risk losing moral ground and receiving a black-eye to our image from which it may take us decades to recover. The State of Alabama, during the Civil Rights era, was forced into self-examination. We can, if we choose, use hard-won insights to our moral advantage. There are no people in the country who are in a better position to comprehend that what is illegal is not necessarily wrong—we remember the Underground Railroad and Rosa Parks, for example. There are no people in the country who are in a better position to comprehend that what is legal is not necessarily right—we remember slavery, segregation, debt peonage and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments for example. We can, if we choose, model for the rest of the country how Americans can respond to the complicated problem of illegal migration knowledgably and compassionately. Recommendations The Alabama Legislature should pressure the federal government to reverse the effects of NAFTA and the other free trade agreements. The Alabama Legislature should begin to understand the interrelatedness of NAFTA-driven illegal migration from Latin America and economic losses in Alabama. Understanding and reversing the effects of NAFTA would address the root cause of illegal migration. This would benefit Mexican workers, allowing them to remain in their home countries, with their families, where most want to be. This would benefit Alabama farmers and factory workers who are losing lands and livelihoods to cheap imports and foreign business buy-outs. The Alabama Legislature should pressure the federal government to reverse the militarization of the U. S. / Mexico border. The number of migrant deaths in the U. S. desert is larger than the combined official numbers of deaths in the September 11, 2001 attacks and because of Hurricane Katrina. Many were and continue to be children. The Alabama Legislature should endeavor to stop this national disgrace. The Alabama Legislature should pressure the federal government to create a workable system by which blue-collar workers and small farmers from Latin Americans can enter and exit the U. S. legally and safely. The Alabama Legislature should pressure the federal government to dismantle the guest-worker program. As it is currently operating it is, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s recent report, “close to slavery.” The Alabama Legislature should pressure the federal government to create a quick path to citizenship for Latin American migrants. An 18-20 year wait is equivalent to no path at all for people desperate for work and income. The Alabama Legislature should pressure the federal government to create a means by which families can be re-united. The need for children to be with their mothers and fathers should not be thwarted by bureaucratic red tape. The Alabama Legislature should aggressively pressure Alabama politicians to stop the alarming return to the politics of fear and demagoguery. This includes unwarranted claims such as that Alabamians are “fed up” with illegal migration or that Latin Americans bring leprosy into the U. S., calling illegal migrants a “public nuisance” in city ordinances and advocating such proposals as the Save America Through Verification and Enforcement Act which presumes without reason that illegal migration endangers America’s national security. The Alabama Legislature should use its power to preempt prejudicial city and county ordinances. It should preempt ordinances against landlords who rent to illegal migrants and employers who hire them. It should preempt vehicle impoundment and other ordinances designed to harass migrants. The Alabama Legislature should create a system by which migrants can obtain driver’s licenses, insurance, medical care and other necessities. The Alabama Legislature should use its access to public media to interpret realities about migrants—including why they migrate, who they are and who they are not—to Alabamians. The Alabama Legislature should interpret the current problem of illegal migration—the problem of the borderline—as a new aspect of the problem of the colorline. It should interpret migrants’ struggles for income, security and dignity as an extension of the Civil Rights struggle. The words chanted in recent May Day parades—“Sí, Se Puede!” in essence means “We Shall Overcome.” This is a concept Alabamians will understand and relate to. Other Americans will, too. A media campaign called “Sí, Se Puede Means We Shall Overcome”, or something similar, could be effective in relating the two struggles." Recommendations Concerning Illegal Migration to the JIPIC January 10, 2008 Ellin Sterne Jimmerson, Ph. D., M. T. S.