- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2007

One of the Republicans campaigning to fill the House seat of Rep. Charlie Norwood, a staunch immigration reform advocate who died in February, has won the endorsement of two of Georgia’s most prominent proponents of immigration control and border security.

D.A. King and Phil Kent — both outspoken opponents of amnesty for illegal aliens — formally endorsed Georgia state Sen. Jim Whitehead during a press conference last week on the steps of the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta.

“This is a pivotal issue for the future of America,” said Mr. Whitehead. “We have to have the intestinal fortitude to protect all Americans. If we are to remain a nation of laws, we must stand firm against any form of amnesty for those who are here illegally.

“If we start vigorously enforcing the law, we can gradually reduce the number of illegal immigrants without either amnesty or mass deportation,” he said.

Mr. King, president of the Dustin Inman Society, said “the very large shoes left by Charlie Norwood” were best filled by Mr. Whitehead because he understands that “this crisis did not come about overnight and that amnesty is something that will keep this problem from ever coming under control. The solution is attrition through enforcement.”

Mr. Kent, national spokesman for Americans for Immigration Control (AIC), described Mr. Whitehead as a longtime friend and a strict constitutionalist, “especially when it comes to illegal immigration, and I’m happy to endorse him.”

AIC itself does not make endorsements because of its status as a nonprofit organization.

Considered the early front-runner in the race, Mr. Whitehead is one of at least a dozen candidates who have mentioned running for the position, which became vacant when Mr. Norwood died in February. State election officials have said that candidate qualifying will begin April 24 and the special election will be held June 19.

Mr. Norwood was a vocal critic of President Bush’s immigration policies and called on the administration to deploy 50,000 U.S. troops to guard America’s southern and northern borders.

Mr. Norwood unsuccessfully sought the passage of legislation to give 600,000 state, local and tribal police officers authority to enforce federal immigration laws and said the Minuteman Project’s civilian border patrols proved that illegal aliens can be kept out with an adequate show of manpower.

“The American people want the borders secured,” Mr. Norwood told The Washington Times in November. “They want existing laws vigorously enforced against criminal aliens, illegal immigrants and their employers. Then they are willing to discuss what to do about illegal aliens already in the country.”

Mr. Whitehead, 65, was first elected to the Georgia Senate in 2004 and re-elected in 2006. He currently serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, vice chairman of the Transportation Committee, a member of the Economic Development and Natural Resources committees, and deputy whip for Senate Republicans.

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