Former U.S. Secretary of State and Birmingham, Alabama native Condoleezza Rice has defended that state’s controversial immigration law as a response born of ‘frustration’ with Federal failure on immigration reform.
Speaking to the Press-Register, she said of Federal reform:
“We tried for it in 2007 and couldn’t get it done. And I think what we’re seeing in Alabama and the other states is a response to that,” she said. “I certainly understand why they are frustrated. But I don’t think a patchwork of state laws is going to serve us very well. It’s something the federal government is going to have to solve. It’s probably not going to happen in 2012 because it’s an election year. But maybe in 2013 we can get back to a serious conversation about it.”
“I think we need to be really careful about what kind of laws we pass and that, in the effort to get a handle on this problem, we don’t end up making the problem worse,” she said. “The fact is that, generally speaking, this patchwork approach is not serving us well and we need to find a better solution. State laws are just not going to do it.”
But Rice defending immigration itself saying:
“We have to remember that the United States is a place where people want to come and make a better life, and that enriches us as a nation. Immigration actually keeps us from some of the demographic problems that Europe and Japan now have and that China is soon going to have. So the challenge is to establish a common policy that upholds the laws, protects our borders and yet still encourages that enrichment that immigrants bring to us.”
Like Alabama’s Republican Governor Robert Bentley, she was concerned that the law ‘has not helped the state’s image in the eyes of the world.’ But she rejected any comparison of now with the segregated Birmingham she grew up with in the 1950s and 1960s.
“Alabama has a difficult history. We all know that. But anyone who’s visited Alabama in recent years knows that it is a very different state than it was when I was a child. So I don’t think Alabama should be unfairly tarnished because of its history in that regard. We don’t need to revisit the old stereotypes.”
Farmers in Alabama are said to be “in revolt” over the state’s immigration law, saying that it is threatening to deal a lethal blow to crops throughout the state.
According to the Washington Post:
The uproar has exposed political fault lines within the Republican Party, whose vows of support for business have run headlong into its crusade to drive away illegal immigrants, on whom agribusiness relies.
Alabama lawmakers insist that, by driving undocumented workers out, they will open jobs for Americans; the unemployment rate in the state is nearly 10 percent. But farmers say that jobless U.S. workers, mostly inexperienced in field work and concentrated in and around cities, are ill-suited and mostly unwilling to do the back-breaking, poorly paid work required to plant and harvest tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and other crops. Farmers also say that, if they were to raise wages to make the jobs more attractive, as advocates for the new law suggest, crop prices would soar, making Alabama produce uncompetitive.
The law has been attacked in the courts with several sections being declared unconstitutional.
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