By Mannix Porterfield
In a politically charged atmosphere that saw Democrats take nearly 80 percent of the Latino vote last fall, President Obama is calling for sweeping changes in America’s immigration laws that could open the door for citizenship to some 11 million illegal immigrants.
Not, however, with the help of Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.
“I am opposed to amnesty for illegal immigration,” the veteran 3rd District congressman said Thursday. “We should not reward illegal behavior.”
A grandson of Lebanese immigrants, who became one of Beckley’s more successful business families, Rahall pointed to America’s “rich and proud history” of immigration, but said arrivals from foreign lands were law-abiding citizens.
“Past generations of immigrants had to abide by the law and so should the current generation of immigrants,” he said.
“The law should apply equally and fairly to everyone.”
Besides a liberalized policy on citizenship, the Obama plan also embraces enhanced border security, a bid to let temporary workers remain in the country and efforts to punish employers who provide jobs to illegal aliens. Details, however, were only sketchy.
The issue has taken on a pronounced political undertone, given the fact that Obama carried 71 percent of the Latino vote, while the Republican presidential nominee attracted a mere 27 percent.
On some phases of the Obama proposal, Rahall appears to be in sync.
“We need to give our border security and immigration enforcement personnel the resources and political mandate they need to do their jobs,” Rahall said.
“We are sending the wrong message abroad if we keep waiving the penalties for breaking our immigration laws.”
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