U.S. Immigration policy, as it stands today, is not working, Shelby said.
“We have some 8,700,000 illegal immigrants, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” said Shelby. “We think there are 12 million or 15 million. We know that our immigration policy is not working. If you believe it is working, all you have to do is look at all of the illegal aliens in this country. When illegal aliens come in and break the law, it makes a mockery of our system. We cannot take everybody in the world. Sometimes we benefit from immigration, but it depends on who the citizens are.”
Shelby also fielded questions about the four-laning of Highway 411 and other road projects. He noted that since 1996, federal appropriations to Alabama roads have increased from $300 million annually to $600,000 million.
On the subject of roads and travel, Shelby said the United States has to decrease its dependency on other countries for fuel. Currently, local gasoline prices are at or nearing $2 per gallon.
“We haven't built any refineries in this country in a long time,” said Shelby. “Oil is a commodity, just like cotton. We import about 60 or 70 percent of our oil. We are becoming more dependent and will go to 70 percent dependent on the Persian Gulf, Venezuela and others unless we do two or three things. Number one, we have to find more oil. I am for drilling in Alaska, I am for drilling offshore. Number two, we need to find an alternative source of energy to run our cars. It is easier said than done. We cannot pass a law to set the price of oil.”
Ray Tinsley, a local citizen, expressed concerns about cutting benefits for veterans and going up on the prices of health insurance for local veterans.
“I serve on the committee that appropriates the money,” said Shelby. “Health care is going to be going up more and more. Veterans will tell you that I have stood with them and I am going to stay with them to try to make veterans' health care accessible.”
Shelby also heard from a local citizen whose daughter lost a good manufacturing job because the jobs went overseas.
“I am concerned about us losing a lot of our manufacturing jobs,” said Shelby. “We have had our lunch eaten in negotiating our trade war. We have the greatest economy, the greatest nation in the world. Since the demise of the Soviet Union and China being admitted to WTO, there has been one billion new workers we are competing with. We have the greatest economy in the world and we have got to work hard to stay there. Otherwise, somebody else will come along and replace us.”
As in the past, Shelby wasn’t shy about his desire to reform the U.S. Tax Code.
“I have been a proponent of the flat tax rate for years,” said Shelby. “We amended the Constitution of the Untied States to give Congress the ability to tax personal income. I wish we had never done that. I think we would have been better off. Government would have been leaner and we would have had more money. The danger of having a national sales tax now is that it would be an add on. How do we reform internal revenue? I hope some of the provisions of the flat tax rate will be considered.”
Shelby said he also supports lowering the capital gains tax and eliminating the death tax.
“I have been touring the state since Jan. 5-6,” said Shelby. “I have had over 1,000 public meetings in 19 years. This gives the people of Cherokee County access to me. It is good for me to come home, listen to you and listen to what is on your mind. Part of the decision making process has go to come from the people. It shouldn't just come from me.