Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. Americans last month became less optimistic about the overall economy, especially the short-term prospects for the job market. *The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index fell five points, stalling a rebound that began last fall following the Gulf Coast hurricanes. *The lower consumer confidence may be reflected in the drop in sales of new homes for the second time in three months. *The numbers indicate a slowdown in the economy which grew at a lackluster annual rate of 1.6 percent in the final quarter of last year. No matter how economists paint the picture – there is a large contingency of people who will always see the U.S. portrait as "rosy". They are the millions of immigrants who often come here looking for a better life than the one they left behind. But many states say they are feeling the financial pinch of dealing with the 11 million undocumented people, most of whom cross the southern border illegally – often at great risk to their own lives. The strongest voice came from western state governors this week, who are asking the Administration and Congress for help.
Citing the burden on taxpayers for the cost of healthcare, education, and incarceration of illegal immigrants, fourteen Western governors are asking Congress to help stop the flow of people slipping over the U.S.-Mexican border. During the National Governors' Association Winter meeting, the bi-partisan group of governors signed what they are calling a comprehensive immigration reform plan.
The coalition was led by Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Republican Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., of Utah.
Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. R-Utah: "This is not about scoring political points, this is about a group of governors, who want, very badly, to seek comprehensive reform in a very important policy area."
Gov. Janet Napolitano, D-Arizona: "In the view of the Western Gorvernors, on a bi-partisan basis, this needs to be dealt with as a law enforcement issue, as a visa issue, and as a labor market issue."
The plan sent to Congress asks for the adoption of legislation that, among other things,
-preserves the safety and interests of the United States but allows a supply of legal workers to enter the country,
-will not grant blanket amnesty to undocumented workers,
-will not create hurdles that keep foreign workers from legally immigrating into the U.S.,
-and will provide full federal funding for law enforcement and infrastructure needs.
Included in the document is a request for federal reimbursement of costs incurred at the state level for expenses associated with holding illegal entrants in local jails. The governors also would like to have the federal government work with top Mexican and Latin American officials to improve foreign economies. The hope is that illegal immigration will be reduced by using high paying jobs as an incentive to encourage foreign workers to stay home.
Gov. Janet Napolitano, D-Arizona: "We believe that some of the rhetoric coming out of our nation's capitol, vis-à-vis illegal immigration, is unfounded and unwise."
Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. R-Utah: "I think Congress will listen to what we as governors have to say on this issue. Having discussed this with Senator McCain and Senator Kyle, and I know Janet has done the same, I believe they are looking forward to an expression our opinions on this matter. I think they will listen. They know what our responsibilities are as governors and they, I think, suspect they will take a hard-headed, realistic, pragmatic approach in terms of our recommendations."