Dozens attend Illegal Immigration Task Force hearing
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some members in the audience at the Illegal Immigration Task Force hearing voiced their concerns that the state's committee, set up to track the state's cost of illegal immigration, was one sided and only focused on the fiscal impact instead of the benefits.
One of the audience members who testified pointed to the illegal immigrants who helped rebuild new Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
"What would be the fiscal cost to the state if we still had 50,000 houses in New Orleans full of mold and rotten refrigerators and busted up?" the man asked. "What would be the fiscal cost of the state to the seafood business and agriculture business if we couldn't shuck the oysters, peel the shrimp, pick the fruit, cut out the sugar cane, and all the things people like me don't want to do because it's hard work and pays poorly?"
Several state agencies testified to the costs, some of which are hard to track.
A Department of Corrections representative testified that of the 37,000 state inmates, 287 are considered "non U.S. citizens."
30 of those are serving a life sentence in the state.
Thomas Bickham, the Undersecretary of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, testified that officials often run into trouble trying to determine if a person is here legally.
"If we're lucky, we have contact with customs enforcement and we can ask those kinds of questions but there's no formal process and I think that is something that we had asked for in the past," he said.
State Representative Valarie Hodges, the chairwoman of the task force, told the audience and committee that illegal immigrants need to bare some of the cost that others pay.
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