Thursday, January 8, 2004

Nashville is cautious about Bush's immigration proposal

Immigration advocates await details; immigration opponents are worried about the plan's potential adverse effect on the labor market.

"'We're very excited this dialogue has started and he has recognized publicly the contribution of undocumented workers,' said Renata Soto, executive director of Conexion Americas, which assists Hispanic families in Middle Tennessee."

"'I think he takes no account of the pressures of the U.S. labor market on the average American worker,' said Virginia Abernathy, professor emeritus of anthropology at Vanderbilt University Medical School. Abernathy opposes the Bush plan."

"'It's going to have a huge impact here, because more illegal aliens will be attracted to work here. And the very large growth in the working poor population directly affects services like TennCare, schools and hospitals,' said Abernathy, who is also on the board of two Washington, D.C.-based groups favoring immigration restrictions: the Carrying Capacity Network and Population-Environment Balance."

"Advocates for and against immigration point to jobs as the main lure for legal and illegal immigration to Tennessee, a state with the sixth-fastest-growing immigrant population in the country."

"Low unemployment rates in the state, and especially in Middle Tennessee, mean employers are always looking for workers, said Tom Negri, general manager of the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel and president of the Tennessee Hotel & Lodging Association."

"Negri said he was waiting to see the fine print of the Bush proposal, but that it may be a solution to labor shortages in the area."

"'Whenever people talk about illegal aliens, people think Hispanic or Latino. But illegal aliens comprise many countries around the world, and that includes people from countries on our terrorist watch list,' said Donna Locke of Tennesseans for Immigration Reform.'"

"David Lubell, director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said the new proposal might actually be good for national security."

"'Instead of being subjected to nothing, which is what undocumented immigrants are, they will be subject to background checks and brought out into the light.'"

Full text of Bush's remarks about immigration policy

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