If indeed an immigration-reform bandwagon is chugging its way through Washington these days, the Surry County Board of Commissioners is not riding.
The board unanimously approved a resolution Monday night in opposition to a U.S. Senate bill on immigration, an action greeted with loud applause from the audience packing a meeting room at Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
“I think the bill is greatly flawed,” said commissioners Chairman Eddie Harris, who spearheaded the county’s resolution and made the motion for it to be approved. The vote by his fellow members consisted of an enthusiastic chorus of “ayes.”
That document will be distributed to the two senators representing North Carolina; Rep. Howard Coble, whose congressional district includes Surry County; and state officials including local members of the N.C. General Assembly.
The county’s measure takes issue with the bill, backed by the so-called “Gang of Eight” in the Senate, on several fronts.
It points out that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants which “has the most liberal and accepting immigration and citizenship laws of any Western democracy.” The federal government has refused to enforce existing regulations, including those in a 1986 immigration bill, which county officials believe are adequate.
More than 50 percent of illegals now in the country arrived with a visa and overstayed their expiration, according to the resolution.
The county measure further points to concerns about a growing population, which will only expand with an amnesty program and strain natural resources.
In legalizing between 10 million and 15 million new citizens, the accompanying “chain migration” actually would make the figure 30 million due allowing them to bring in extended family members, the resolution says.
Harris also said Monday night that the latest estimate on the ultimate cost of the immigration bill is $6.3 trillion.
The massive population growth caused by the bill would burden taxpayers, government resources, the infrastructure and the environment — putting the nation “on a disastrously unsustainable path,” according to the resolution.
Instead of the bill now under consideration, the resolution by the Surry County Board of Commissioners calls for support of recommendations by the national immigration group Numbers USA, including:
• Ending chain migration;
• A verifiable visa entry and exit system;
• Eliminating a visa lottery;
• Ending birthright citizenship, also known as the “anchor baby” phenomenon;
• Federal aid for states to combat immigration problems.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.