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by Mallory Thompson

July 27--   Uvalda Mayor Paul Bridges was in Washington Tuesday testifying before a Senate sub-committee on immigration. Bridges has made headlines for joining a class action lawsuit against the state of Georgia and its new immigration law. 

"Many folks have been surprised that a conservative Republican like me is involved in a lawsuit against my beloved state. It is shocking, but it shouldn't be a surprise.  This law is not immigration reform.  This law is government intrusion of the worst kind.  It threatens our economy.  It threatens our way of life," he told the committee chaired by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.

Bridges told the sub-committee that Uvalda is already feeling the effects of the new law with migrant workers fleeing the state.  "Now that migrant workers are fleeing the state, perfectly healthy crops are left rotting in the fields.  The Georgia Agri-Business Council has already reported that farms have lost over $300 million due to the lack of workers, and this economic toll could reach $1 billion," he testified.

Bridges warned the Senators the new law would strain local law enforcement to enact the law without proper immigration training, and without a jail facility in the county, the city would have to rent jail space in a neighboring town further draining its resources.

"The bottom line is that Uvalda, like so many other towns dealing with anti-immigration laws, would no doubt take a major economic hit and be less safe as a result," he said.

While Bridges does not support amnesty for illegal immigrants, he told me after the hearing he does support a pathway to citizenship.  "What I'm really talking about is an ability to identify workers who have been doing this work for years and to give them the benefit to continue doing this work and to give them the ability to support their children, many of whom are U.S. citizen-children.  The current environment as it exists does not take into account that these people are part of our community," Bridges said.

{mosimage}Bridges joined mayors from Lewiston, Maine and Utica, New York in testifying before the hearing which was titled, "The Economic Imperative of Enacting Immigration Reform."