March 31, 2009

Roswell City Council member gets it: Guest editorial

Posted by D.A. King at 8:05 pm - Email the author   Print This Post Print This Post Roswell, Ga.


No Simple Immigration Solution for Roswell

publication date: Mar 21, 2009


By Councilwoman Lori Henry

As a member of the Roswell City Council, I receive a quite a number of calls and emails from constituents on matters of concern to them. You might think that the most frequently voiced concern would involve zoning issues or code violations, but it’s not. The category of complaints that far outstrips all others is illegal immigration. Some who contact me on the subject are local business people who say that the presence of loitering illegal immigrants keeps customers away and devalues their property. I’ve heard from realtors who say that prospective homebuyers are turned off on moving to Roswell when they see loiterers clustered about shopping centers and along our city streets. I have heard from constituents who have been victims of traffic accidents with illegal immigrants who are not licensed to drive and lack insurance. They want to know why the city allows people to roam our streets who are not here legally.

Others complain about having to wait in crowded hospital emergency rooms behind people they believe are illegal immigrants who use emergency services as a source of “free” primary healthcare. Parents tell how their children are in overcrowded classrooms because the sons and daughters of illegal immigrants, who do not speak English, come and go in droves as their parents move in and out of the community. Homeowners complain that single residences with two or three bedrooms in their neighborhood are being used to house sometimes as many as fifteen or twenty adults.

These are real concerns. The city is taking every action within the law to remedy the problem, yet there is so much more that can be done and needs to be done. Unfortunately, local city councils, county commissions, school boards, and even hospital administrators’ hands are often tied. We must encourage and support legislation by our elected officials serving at the state and federal level that promises to stem the tide of this of illegal activity before it brings our both our local communities and our great nation to its knees. As citizens we all must encourage and support federal and state-funded initiatives that invest greater authority with local elected officials. As the spring planting season arrives, please be mindful of the part you play and remember that these folks will not be standing on street corners looking for work if there is no work to be found. Then and only then will we see real change. If you hire them, they will keep coming and coming.

We will continue to struggle with this issue, as there are no easy answers. Please remember that there are many immigrants living in Roswell who are here legally and as the city takes steps to discourage illegal immigrants, it is important that we let those here lawfully know they are welcome and embraced.

Personally, I can empathize with those who come to the US without permission because for the most part, they too are here seeking work and to make a better life for their families and for themselves. In the end, however, if we are not a nation based on the primacy of law, we will lose that which underpins all that we cherish most about our country and culture.

So to those who read my words who are here legally from another land, you can be assured that Roswell wants you here. To those who are here without sanction, my message is simply this: go home and come back through the front door. You will know it when you see it. It’s right there by the welcome mat. And it’s the law.

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