Phil Bryant Has It Right on Fighting Illegal Immigration, Leslie McLemore Has It All Wrong

In an article in Sunday’s (July 8, 2007) Clarion-Ledger titled “Lt. gov. hopefuls courting the right”, Jackson State University political science professor Leslie McLemore has it all wrong about illegal immigration:

“In this effort to be more conservative than the other person, they are trying to use Mexican Americans as a whipping person,” McLemore said. He compares the rhetoric to political speak of the 1950s and 1960s when a fear of African Americans gaining power drove white voters to the polls. “Primarily you see people are being set upon, beat upon that don’t have a voice in the political system,” he said. “It borders on racism.”

“Leslie McLemore has it all wrong on illegal immigration,” said Phil Bryant. “I’ve been a conservative all of my life and my longtime concern about illegal immigration is not about pandering-it’s about protecting the taxpayers of Mississippi. For years, the Mississippi Legislature has failed to act to address the problem of illegal immigration and it’s a problem that can no longer be ignored. That’s why in February, 2006-about eighteen months ago-I issued an official report about the negative impact of illegal immigration and what it’s costing Mississippi. The fact is it costs Mississippi taxpayers $25 million each year in health care, education and prison costs because of illegal immigrants in our state. It’s time for accountability and action, and as Lt. Governor, I’ll lead the charge to stop illegal immigration in Mississippi.”

Phil Bryant has proposed several measures to stop illegal immigration including:

* Prohibiting contractors or vendors who do business with the state from hiring illegal immigrants; state contracts will be cancelled and violators fined when illegal immigrants have been knowingly hired.

* Requiring a valid Mississippi driver’s license to purchase a car tag.

* Pursuing training dollars for local and state law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws.

* Requiring the state to keep documentation about the number of illegal immigrants apprehended at the state and local level to get an annual, accurate assessment of the current illegal immigrant situation in Mississippi.

A Clarion-Ledger editorial on March 12, 2007, described Phil Bryant’s longtime work on the issue of fighting illegal immigration. The following are excerpts from that editorial titled “Immigration: Bryant’s concern more than ‘gimmick'”:

“State Auditor Phil Bryant has more than an election year gimmick going on with his concern with illegal immigration. In announcing a run for lieutenant governor and again before The Clarion-Ledger Editorial Board last month, Bryant urged attention toward the problem in Mississippi…”More needs to be done to make sure Mississippi does not tolerate or condone illegal immigration,” Bryant maintains…The Republican auditor has been blasted by some – principally Democratic – quarters for his study last year that found that the state spends $25 million a year on health care, education and prison costs for illegal immigrants.”

Phil Bryant Press Release