County takes on immigration

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AIKEN - It doesn't say it now, but Aiken County's welcome sign might need a couple of new sentences if a proposed immigration law passes:

You'd better be here legally. And speak English.

County council members could make English the official language of Aiken County with a proposed law that also requires jail staff to determine whether inmates are U.S. citizens.

It also bans the county from hiring people who can't prove they're legal residents, asks that all companies that do business with Aiken County not hire illegal immigrants and bans agencies receiving county money from serving illegal immigrants.

Councilwoman Kathy Rawls, one of the sponsors of the proposed law, said she and other council members had hoped something similar would be done at the state level.

Frustrated when that didn't happen, she said, the council drafted this ordinance to send a message to President Bush and state representatives that "it's about time you started enforcing the law."

"I think it was just to emphasize the point," she said. "It irritates me to call and have to punch 1 for English. English is our national language."

That's not all she said she's angry about. Ms. Rawls said she's also "furious" that when county jailers find out an inmate is in the country illegally "the federal agencies that are supposed to pick these people up and send them back to their country of origin do not want to be bothered unless they have committed a violent crime or unless they have already been sent back once. That really distressed me."

Similar laws across the country have been challenged - some overturned by the courts - and county staff warned council members in a memo in June that they might run into problems enforcing the regulations.

The proposed law - which does not address any ethnic group - has to pass at least two more readings by the county council before it's on the books. The earliest it could go into effect would be September, said County Administrator Clay Killian.

"That doesn't mean we'll stick to that schedule," he said. "There's obviously going to be a great deal of debate on this one."

Ms. Rawls said she hopes that the county will make the law even tougher and target landlords and hotel owners who rent to illegal immigrants. She also wants businesses found to be employing illegal immigrants punished.

"But we really haven't gotten a good handle on how we'd enforce that," she said. "I think there may also be some challenges before the court at present in other areas of the country."

County staff research found that the city of Hazelton, Pa., is being prevented from enforcing its tough illegal immigration law - which would have punished businesses and required apartment dwellers to get a special residency license - after a federal lawsuit was filed.

At least two other similar laws in Missouri and California were struck down, and the American Civil Liberties Union is challenging others also.

Ms. Rawls said she hopes the state will enact its own law addressing the matter.

"We should all be very concerned about who is coming into our country now illegally," she said. "They need to get serious about making our borders more safe."

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (15) Add comment
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Dixieman
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Dixieman 07/24/07 - 06:00 am
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Where's the fence?

Where's the fence?

doorag
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doorag 07/24/07 - 06:15 am
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Right on Aiken County and

Right on Aiken County and hats off to Ms Rawls!

2tired2argueanymore
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2tired2argueanymore 07/24/07 - 06:52 am
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Maybe if Aiken county takes

Maybe if Aiken county takes the issues public when the federal agencies don't do their job it will stir enough public outrage to make the lawmakers take notice. Why should we wait for someone to kill or hurt someone else to take action against illegals. They obviously got arrested for something to be in jail so they broke the law to get here and then they have broke the law again while they were here. Someone should pass a law to ban the civil liberties union from the state.

drcptsr
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drcptsr 07/24/07 - 06:55 am
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Employers who hire illegal

Employers who hire illegal aliens should be fined on the first and second offenses and lose their business license on the third.

sellsbs
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sellsbs 07/24/07 - 07:29 am
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Aiken CC, Pleaseeeeeeee pass

Aiken CC, Pleaseeeeeeee pass the ordinance! I'm tired of the county
spending my tax (taxed to death) dollars for Spanish signs and other stuff!

Also, I have personally sat outside the Aiken county health department one afternoon and watched 25 illegal immigrants walk out with their anchor babies in arms as well as paper work, an EBT card and some small bags of stuff? How about other county services Kathy. But don't be afraid of a lawsuit, the ACLU can't be in all places. Aiken is small potatoes.

good7ness7
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good7ness7 07/24/07 - 07:52 am
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Get on down to Burke County

Get on down to Burke County and much of that population will have to leave for sure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cao3gra
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cao3gra 07/24/07 - 08:05 am
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This is America and we should

This is America and we should look out for our homefront. Everywhere you go there is someone from another country speaking a different lanuage and I don't know their legal status. I wish I could get half of the benefits these people are getting but instead I have to help support them. Look at the school system. You have these children that does not speak the lanugage in regular classroom for the teacher to deal with slowing up the rate our children can be taught. Special classes for non speaking children to learn the lanuage. All being paid by legal citizens tax dollars. What is ironic my husband lost his job because the company he worked for moved to Mexico. Thank you Kathy Rawls and the other council members who are trying to make Aiken County a better place to live. Our council members need our support.

fedupcitizen
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fedupcitizen 07/24/07 - 08:47 am
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I applaud Ms. Rawls. If

I applaud Ms. Rawls. If every County in every State would follow suit maybe just maybe it would force the politicians hands to actually DO something about this problem.

neutral
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neutral 07/24/07 - 09:07 am
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It is sad that there is such

It is sad that there is such hatred in a country that is supposed to be a land of opportunity. I agree that we have to monitor and regulate the illegal immigrant problem, but there has got to be another way to do it. Condeming everyone is wrong. I am biased. I am married to an Hispanic who came into the country legally, but now if we go out anywhere we get those looks of is he illegal?. He is a resident who can speak English and is a very hardworking individual. I know alot of immigrants who are the hardest working, church going people. I just wish that the U.S. can come to a neutral understanding to try to resolve this in a cordial manner. There has got to be a way. Hopefully between the politicians and we, the citizens there can be a resolution, but even then not everyone will be happy. Also, immigrants can be here legally and not have to be U.S citizens.

ohhsweetconcord
3
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ohhsweetconcord 07/24/07 - 09:22 am
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English as an official county

English as an official county language? All because you don't want to read some Spanish? If that doesn't reek of being reactionary, I don't know what does. Folks, we're living in a changing time where not all Americans speak English. Instead of trying to resist change, Americans must adapt. Education and language policy should focus on teaching students both English and Spanish, while not forcing everyone to accommodate to English. It is incredibly important to the future of the American economy that all immigrants, especially the children of illegals, learn and understand the English language. How can we ever expect them to successfully integrate into America and excel in the workplace if we do not teach them the predominant American language?

jack
10
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jack 07/24/07 - 09:27 am
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Neutral, the cordial way to

Neutral, the cordial way to resolvethis problem is to close the borders and round up all the illegals and deport their asses back to where they came from. I have urged my Congressmen to make English our official language and to rescind the law that allows these illegals to have babies at our expense that automatically become citizens (anchors).

doorag
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doorag 07/24/07 - 09:51 am
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neutral--no one is talking

neutral--no one is talking about an immigrant who came here legally, oh and for ohhsweetconcord, if you want to come to this country, learn the language and no, Ameericans do not have to adapt. The ones who must adapt are the ones who come here LEGALLY. For the illegals, send their cracks back home!!

ohhsweetconcord
3
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ohhsweetconcord 07/24/07 - 10:08 am
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Labrat: I could have sworn

Labrat: I could have sworn that I advocated learning English in the post above. That's what are schools need to be doing. The reality of the situation is that we do have millions of illegal immigrants in this country and there are good odds that they aren't going anywhere. So, we have two options: Teach their children English so that they can compete in the workforce or ignore them or advocate impractical and impossible policy solutions (i.e. sending "their cracks back home"). And it is necessary for Americans to adapt if we won't to continue as a strong nation.

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 07/24/07 - 12:32 pm
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i agree with you labrat!!!!,

i agree with you labrat!!!!, what most of the bleeding hearts do not understand is if you cut off all types of assistance to illegal aliens except for life saving care to stablize them, and then send them back home they will leave on ther own because there will not be an incentive to stay. basic economic theory; we have limited resources in which to give out in the form of assistance, but we have more people asking more of the system than it can supply without raising taxes or cutting services. i have an idea, all those who want the illegal immagrants to stay why do you take care of them, pay their hospital bills, by there food, give them cash assistance and teach their children!!!!. everyone talks about school over-crowding well prohibit the illegal aliens from attending schools. just a little reminder, if an american citizen goes to mexico they are will not receive the same benefits that illegal immagrants recieve here!!!! there are no special arraingments to print most things in english, so why should we make accomodations for hispanics when there are none for other minority groups such as polish, african dialects, german, oriental, eastern european, etc.

MyOpinion2
5
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MyOpinion2 07/24/07 - 03:04 pm
0
0
I vote Ms. Rawls for

I vote Ms. Rawls for President all in favor say I!

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