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Civic Engagement Day Statement, January 23, 2013

28 January 2013 No Comment

Juan Carlos Cook, speaking at the Capital Building.

By Juan Carlos Cook, Organizer, MIRA
January 26, 2013

President Barack Obama made it very clear during his inaugural address on Monday that immigration reform is already a centerpiece of his second-term agenda.

In the coming weeks the president is expected to aggressively push for ways to create an eventual pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already in this country.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said during a recent interview that immigration reform was the most important issue on the Senate’s schedule.

We are all residents of the United States of America, and in matters of immigration, the Supreme Court made it pretty clear last year that the states may not enter, in any respect, an area the federal government and the U.S. constitution has reserved for itself. Federal law trumps state law.

And political motivations aside, let’s be absolutely clear about something here…you cannot deport the state of Mississippi to economic prosperity. It didn’t take long for Alabama and Arizona to figure this out the hard way.

Here in the State of Mississippi, undocumented workers paid some $52.4 million in state and local taxes during 2010. Broken down…that’s $8.1 million in state income taxes; $2.6 million in property taxes; and $41.7 million in sales tax, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.

The undocumented are clearly adding value to Mississippi’s economy, not only as taxpayers, but as workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs as well.

Over the last few years a number of immigrant rights organizations and individuals across the U.S., including those of us standing here today, have been meeting to develop an alternative immigration reform bill based on human rights.

Common sense dictates that we afford immigrants legal status and equal protection under the law, reunify families and end temporary worker programs and employer sanctions.

Immigrants ought to enjoy the same right to work, and equal access to higher education.

Meaningful reform would de-militarize our border and border communities, end the war on drugs with the violence it has created in Mexico and Central America, and end the U.S. trade and foreign policies that cause the dislocation of people in the first place.

We seek meaningful immigration reform that is based on the basic premise of dignity, human rights and equality for all. Let’s move forward, Mississippi! 

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