Rep. Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs, has finished the first draft of an immigration bill he hopes to introduce in the next legislative session. Talk of the bill started to swirl in early November after Catholic Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock issued a pastoral letter saying the human rights of immigrants should be considered a social justice issue.
Sample won't reveal details yet, but said it would cover state services, higher education and employment.
“Right now we are offering services to illegal aliens that we're not making available to our own citizens,” Sample says. “And with the budget cuts that we've had to make in the state, we just can't provide for people who are here illegally.” Independent studies have shown, however, that the immigrant workforce contributes far more to the state's economy than it costs.
Sample says he hopes to file the bill sometime before Christmas. Sample argues that providing services to illegal immigrants is insulting to those who “abide by the law and go through the naturalization process.”
Bishop Taylor says that to the extent that states act on immigration, policy should be based on justice and respect for human rights.
“We should do something positive to build up our society rather than something negative to divide people,” Taylor says. “One thing the state can do, or should do, is to set in motion programs to assist immigrants in assimilating to life in the United States, including improved opportunities to learn English and other assistance to help people adapt to life here.”
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Way paved to register
If you've ever walked the cobblestone alley north of Rumba revolution, between LaHarpe and Rock Streets, you've trodden on pavers that were laid in 1889 and supported the horse-and-buggies of the era.
The alley — officially the Block 35 Cobblestone Alley — is probably the last example of Little Rock's granite-paved streets of the 19th century, and as such has been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.
The state Historic Preservation Program of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, in its nomination of the 30-by-300-foot alley, quoted the 1888 Arkansas Gazette's report on Little Rock's streets: “Lately extensive improvements have been made on the principal business streets, many blocks have been and more are being laid with first-class granite pavement, the blocks for which are mainly quarried from our own granite in the Fourche mountains within two miles of the city. The pavement … is being laid as fast as men and money can do it.”
The nomination would afford limited protection to the alley, which is owned by the city, from projects funded with federal dollars.