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Monday, November 28, 2005

Bama Border Wars

An early sign that illegal immigration could be a major issue in the governor's race came with Roy Moore's entry into the race. One of the five points of the Moore platform is staunch opposition to illegal immigration. However, since the beginning of the campaign other issues such as political reform (term limits, biennial sessions) and tax policy have dominated the political landscape.

However, there are signs that illegal immigration is about to emerge as a defining issue.

The recent court decision granting lifetime workers' compensation to a 17 year old illegal immigrant injured in a work related fall in Birmingham looks to have all the ingredients for a political backlash. Though the court's ruling may very well be consistent with the law, there is at least a surface level contradiction that an individual in the country illegally could be "rewarded" by the American judicial system.

If there is a conservative backlash against this decision, Governor Riley could be in a pickle. The business community, which Riley counts among his most ardent allies, relies on cheap labor provided by illegal immigrants. However, such a rationale is most likely an affront to many conservatives voters culturally offended by the rising immigrant population. Even JeffCO suburbs like Hoover have show recent predilections toward anti-illegal immigration fervor.

In short this decision gives Roy Moore more ammunition with which to pry suburban voters from the Riley camp.

However, Riley seems sensitive to the political realities of the issue as he recently publicized a state effort (in cooperation with the Federal Department of Homeland Security) to use state troopers to target illegal immigration. Gestures like these are smart politics, but Riley will have to do more than the occasional press conference to stay on top of the issue.

Anti-illegal immigration sentiment seems to be growing by the day, especially (but certainly not limited to) among conservatives. The passivity of Republican-dominated Washington to substantively address the issue only leads to many voters being more open to unorthodox candidates. Even if Bob Riley and Roy Moore take basically the same position on illegal immigration (against it), many voters are likely to see Moore as the more likely change agent than the establishment inclined incumbent governor.

I don't think the Democrats will be off the hook on the issue either. There is simply not much of a constituency in Alabama for a status quo approach on illegal immigration.

The governor's race has long been expected to revolve around taxes and religion and while those issues will no doubt influence the outcome, don't be surprised if illegal immigration is ultimately the driving issue of the 06 campaign.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Riley's been on top of this issue long before it became the issue of the day. He probably has a string of anti-illegal immigration votes he will bring up from his days in Congress (this is, after all, a federal issue and not a state issue). Plus, he took the initiative shortly after becoming governor to make Alabama one of only two or three states with the authority to get its state troopers trained to arrest illegals. Seems like Riley's way ahead of the curve on this.

11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just last week 23 new state troopers trained specifically for immigration issues hit the hiways of alabama. Riley is doing his part, but local employers must do their part also, or Riley and the feds have to enforce the law against them. The thing that gets me is the hispanic gang activity that goes mostly unnoticed. The shelby county DA just got a federal grant to boost enforcement on this issue. Hispanic gangs in montgomery were recently arrested by the feds for running a print shop that duplicated immigration papers and related documents. This is large scale crime, not unlike the mafia. In fact, it is the hispanic mafia, and we need to wake up and elect people who will squarely and unequivocally commit to eradicating gangs and illegal immigrants.

3:17:00 PM  
Blogger PoliSciZac said...

Yes, Riley will defintely have some initiatives to point to in showing how anti-illegal immigration he is. But my thought is that Moore won't have to worry about placating BCA interests and can take stronger rhetorical stands against illegals.

Also I think there is a general anti-incumbent sense among many people who are concerned about the issue and Moore looks more likely to shake things up than Riley.

Just my thoughts.

4:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PoliSciZac, I think you're a bit pro-Moore. No doubt, the GOP primary looks like it will be close, but what does Moore really bring to the table on this issue? It's already against the law for companies to hire illegal immigrants, so what would Moore's idea accomplish?

5:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy, Riley's political operatives are really really going overkill in board responses aren't they?

You guys aren't fooling anyone.

5:13:00 PM  
Blogger PoliSciZac said...

I do think I rate Moore's chances more highly than many prognosticators. On this issue I simply think that if Moore and Riley have basically the same position on illegal immigration that Moore's outsider insurgent image will trump Riley's inevitable defense of the status quo.

That's just my analysis of the politics of the issue.

5:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zac, does Riley have to pay you when he advertises here?

Look, I hope that he beats Moore like a drum, but nobody should underestimate the willingness of voters in this state to vote for a buffoon.

10:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Law said...

I think Zac's analysis is sound when he states that, "On this issue I simply think that if Moore and Riley have basically the same position on illegal immigration, that Moore's outsider insurgent image will trump Riley's inevitable defense of the status quo."

Moore's other advantage on this issue is Riley's credibility gap. Most Alabamans, whether we agree or disagree with Moore, expect him to do what he promises (one reason for the desperate name-calling of many of his opponents). If he says he'll do more to stop illegals than any previous governor, we expect he will -- even if some liberal judge tries to invent a right or two to try and let the illegals stay.

Riley, by contrast, has a public habit of saying one thing to get votes (I promise I will not support a tax increase if I am elected governor and I will support Judge Moore and the Ten Commandments) and doing the opposite when the political heat, especially from Washington, is turned up.

Given Riley's track record of caving to the left and breaking his promises on other politically sensitive issues, Riley's promises to get serious on immigration enforcement simply aren't very credible.

7:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can't Roy Moore just pray the wetbacks out of the country. You know, like divine intervention. Roy should certainly call in some chits on this one. God knows Roy thinks he's earned it! Seriously, Moore is worse than elmer gantry. Has anyone every placed a cross on his forehead or doused him with holy water? We need to know!

10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa -- some Moore supporter on this post is breaking the Ninth Commandment. (Not that I'm surprised.) Whoever wrote in a previous post that Bob Riley said: "I promise I will not support a tax increase if I am elected governor and I will support Judge Moore and the Ten Commandments." I want you to come forward and show where you got that from. When he ran for governor, Bob Riley never made these two promises. Go look at the record. Your post is simply a lie. (Remember, you're supposed to follow all Ten Commandments. You can't pick and choose.)

10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually think the opposite is true: Riley will likely only promise things that he think he can accomplish, while Moore will say anything thet he thinks his rabid supporters want to hear. Riley will feel constrained by reality, such as the fact that immigrants (legal and illegal) have certain rights and there are legal limits to the use of the military, while Moore lives in an alternate universe where the law is just whatever you want it to be. Riley can not possibly get to the right of Moore when it comes to immigrant bashing.

10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

law said, referring to Moore, "If he says he'll do more to stop illegals than any previous governor, we expect he will -- "

Whoever law is -- he, she, or it, certainly places more credence on what politicians say than I ever will.

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