According to its website the mission of the Sarasota Tiger Bay Club is:
To promote community understanding of current political and social issues, through public discourse and the free exchange of ideas.
The Sarasota Tiger Bay Club is a non-partisan political organization that was formed to foster understanding of public issues. We decided it was better to attack the issues in face-to-face confrontations with key policy makers than merely lament the drift of politics. We’re political, but non-partisan.
You would believe, given their mission statement, that any discussion on any topic would be fair and balanced. You would be wrong.
On Thursday, April 3rd, the Sarasota Tiger Bay Club held a panel on immigration. The three panel members were Luz Corcuera, program director of Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee, Kelly Kirschner, former Mayor of the City of Sarasota and Christian Ziegler, State Committeeman for the Republican Party of Sarasota County. Corcuera and Kirschner are pro-amnesty, Ziegler spoke for the other side. The panel was moderated by Mike Bennett, former FL state senator and Supervisor of Elections for Manatee County, FL.
When Ziegler learned of the makeup of the panel (2 for and 1 against) he requested another panel member to provide balance and insure fairness. In an email to Tiger Bay board member Susan Nolan, Ziegler stated, “I was asked by Kim [Noyes, Executive Director of the Sarasota Tiger Bay Club] to find another panelist last week, which is why I did mention to Rich [Swier] (without knowing he had refused) when I ran into him at our prep-breakfast. I was also informed by Kim after asking about having Rich added, that the panel was set because the invitation had been sent, prep had been completed, etc.” Note: I was approached by Nolan to sit on the panel but when I learned I would be the only one speaking for one side of the issue I refused. Others, such as Sarasota resident George Fuller, declined for the same reason.
Nolan would have none of it. In an email reply to Ziegler and me Nolan stated, “I appreciate your concern, but it is not warranted. Christian will do just fine. In addition, I ask (sic) Senator Bennett to be the moderator instead of me because of his background on immigration. We are pretty happy with the panel.” Attempts to balance the panel with two for amnesty and two against failed.
The net result was the panel became a sham.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune political writer Jerry Wallace wrote, “A local forum illustrated the immigration reform debate’s complexity Thursday, with participants unable to agree even on basic terminology. The use of the words ‘amnesty’ and ‘illegal immigrant’ or who could rightly claim to be ‘for immigration reform’ were as much a point of contention at the Sarasota Tiger Bay meeting as the specifics of any bill or law. The war over words started with the opening question, when moderator and former state Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, asked if the U.S. should allow amnesty for illegal immigrants in the nation now.”
Wallace saw the panel as a war of words, not on substance. Ziegler noted that members of Tiger Bay came up to him after the panel and said that he was not given equal time to respond to questions and in some cases was cut off before he could respond to comments made by Corcuera and Kirshner.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates the annual costs of illegal immigration to be at least $113 billion a year. Nearly $29 billion of that comes from federal taxes and the rest is supplemented by state and local taxes. States continue to carry the brunt of the burden for the cost to educated, medicate and incarcerate illegals. California has the highest expenses at $21.75 billion, followed by New York at $9.47 billion, Texas $8.87 billion, Florida $5.46 billion and New Jersey $3.47 billion annually. To view a map of the costs to each state click here.
According to FAIR Florida’s cost breakdown by category are: Education $3.34 billion, Social Assistance $976.9 million, Justice $578.9 million and other expenses $567.3 million.
George Fuller writes:
Since 1970 with mass immigration the largest number are from Mexico. Of those allowed in legally, only 36% have become Naturalized but over 50% are on welfare. Of all immigrants allowed in since 1970 only 56% have become Naturalized. Think recent immigrants are coming to contribute or take?
The first amnesty was in 1986 supposedly for under one million illegal aliens but ended up being over 3 million who were said to be yearning for citizenship. Granted amnesty over twenty eight years ago, only 40% ever became Naturalized. Not content, Congress passed an additional six amnesties or amnesty adjustments through 2000 that no one ever mentions. What is one definition of insanity?
How about the promises Congress made in 1986 and not one to this day has been kept:
- There would be only one amnesty…ever…
- Congress would secure the border…
- Congress would mandate E-Verify so all workers would be legal.
Yet, we have those in Congress only too happy to say the immigration system is broken not remembering the promises made in ’86 or following the advice of the Jordan Commission in ’97 to eliminate chain migration.
We cannot control poverty until we control immigration levels.
FAIR states, “Illegal immigration poses a real threat to America today. Danger at the border and violence from drugs and gangs are only the beginning. Illegal aliens’ growing access and dependence on social services threatens our social and economic stability.”
To understand how much of a threat illegals are to Florida’s social and economic stability let’s look at the proposed state budget for 2014-1015:
You can see from the pie chart that the annual cost to educate, medicate and incarcerate illegals in Florida exceeds Florida’s Justice budget, would pay for Florida’s entire Government Operations and Agriculture and Natural Resources programs combined, and is a full 20% of the state’s Education budget.
It is sad that a real discussion of the actual costs of illegals to the state were not brought up in any detail. As Dr. Larry Reed, Executive Director of FEE, notes, “Sound policy requires that we consider long-run effects and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people.”
Perhaps this information would have seen the light of day if the Sarasota Tiger Bay Club panel was balanced?
To read all of our stories on immigration please click here.
RELATED VIDEO: ABC News Channel 7 report on the Tiger Bay panel:
EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of the Sarasota Tiger Bay Club. Those in the photo are the 2011 Board of Directors posing with James Carville, former advisor to President Bill Clinton.