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State and Local Officials in the South Speak Up to Fix the Broken Immigration System

Democratic and Republican state and local officials from all over the country are speaking out about the need for commonsense immigration reform. See what officials from the southern United States had to say.

Ed. note: This post is the first in a series of five. Check back on the White House Blog throughout the week for more statements from leaders around the country.

Across the country, Democratic and Republican state and local officials are speaking out about the need for commonsense immigration reform. This week, we’ll share thoughts from governors, mayors, county executives, state legislators, attorneys general, treasurers and more about why they support immigration reform and how fixing the broken immigration system would impact their communities.

“For too many years our country has struggled to find an effective solution to immigration reform, with the central issue being the question of how to deal with undocumented workers.  We have been encouraged, however, that in recent months a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators has been working together to establish a path that allows those workers, the great majority of whom are hard-working dignified individuals, to become lawful tax-payers.  It is important for the continued growth and competitiveness of our country that we find a solution to this issue, and I urge Congress to continue working together to establish a fair, but humane, solution that establishes such a path.”

Miami-Dade, Florida Mayor Carlos Gimenez

“There is no doubt that the economic, social and cultural contributions of immigrants continue to enrich our cities and communities. We cannot ever forget that immigrants have helped make our nation stronger. This is an issue of great importance here in Georgia, and as such, I support President Barack Obama’s proposal to achieve meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform.”

Atlanta, Georgia Mayor Kasim Reed

“In Birmingham, we recognize the value of diversity. We strive to be inclusive and to give a sense of respect for all cultures and all races. Here in the cradle of the Civil Rights struggle, our history mandates that we embrace all cultures and ensure that all are treated equally and fairly and with the honor they deserve.”

Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell

“Louisville is a growing international city in the heartland of America. Comprehensive immigration reform is essential for us to spur entrepreneurism and grow jobs. America's population represents all of the immigrants of the world. The quicker immigration reform is addressed and resolved, the quicker our international competitive economic advantage will accelerate.”

Louisville, Kentucky Mayor Greg Fischer

"Tennessee has become one of our nation's new destination states for immigrants. For Memphis and our entire region, the need for immigration reform is one that has crystallized around our community's persistent need for a qualified workforce. With the South remaining extremely viable in economic development, we have come to better understand how creating a pathway to citizenship is a real opportunity to strengthen our workforce and our local economy."

Memphis, Tennessee Mayor AC Wharton

“As Arkansas recorded the nation’s fourth-largest percentage increase in immigrant population during the last decade, it’s important that we have policies that welcome our new neighbors rather than relegate them to a second-class status. Our country was built on the American Dream in which anyone could build a good life for their family, regardless of who they are or where they came from. Unfortunately, our immigration policy has not lived up to that noble ideal. It’s time for Congress to act and come up with a commonsense immigration policy.”

Little Rock, Arkansas Mayor Mark Stodola

“America’s success as a nation has been due to the ‘diversity’ of our population by immigrants coming to this country, our cities and towns for an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their families and others. They bring with them energy, vibrancy and the will to survive and succeed, in addition to the economic, social and cultural benefits for all. To this end, I fully support President Obama’s four point Immigration reform proposal, which calls for comprehensive immigration reform to help stimulate the economy, grow the nation’s workforce, and remain competitive in the 21st century global marketplace.”

Alexandria, Virginia Mayor William Euille

“I am calling on my colleagues and others to join me in support of comprehensive immigration reform.  A well regulated system leads to greater economic opportunities for immigrants and strengthens family ties which in turn help to build stronger communities. Many families throughout our history were composed of sons and daughters of immigrants.  They were only looking for a hand up and not a hand out.  Their contributions to this country are unlimited. A comprehensive immigration system ensures liberty and justice for all.  It will take a strong bipartisan effort for this to occur.  We have achieved many great things in this country.  It is not time to turn the hands of change backward.”

Baton Rouge, Louisiana Mayor Kip Holden

“I stand with President Obama on common sense immigration reform.  We have an opportunity to create an immigration system that is both fair for Americans and for those immigrants wanting to be a part of our great nation. Now is the time to address this critical issue.”

Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Harvey Johnson

“It is no secret that the immigration system in the United States is broken. Fortunately, passing comprehensive immigration reform has never been more attainable than it is right now. We all agree that we must strengthen our borders, crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers and provide a reasonable path to citizenship. It is so important that we bring the 11 million undocumented workers in this country out of the shadows and require them to learn English, pay taxes and penalties, and pass background checks before they can obtain citizenship. These are non-partisan, common-sense approaches to solving our nation’s immigration problems.”

South Carolina State Representative Todd Rutherford

“Durham is a city with a creative class and a city of entrepreneurs, which we encourage and support.  Immigration reform would be a tool that would work to allow many of these international students to remain in our city upon graduation to practice their learned skills, while facilitating the continued progressive entrepreneurship of our city specifically and our state and nation in general.”

Durham, North Carolina Mayor Bill Bell

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