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‘Show Me State’ shows the world

Willard Duncan Van Diver of Missouri, who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1897 to 1903, is credited with first referencing his home turf as the “Show Me State.”

That nickname is translated into a certain self-deprecating stubbornness and devotion to simple common sense.

It appears that common sense remains alive and well in Missouri today.

While Arizona’s recently enacted and highly controversial illegal immigrant law resulted in protests, Missouri is flying under the radar with their legislation on the same issue.

And for the “Show Me’s” it all started with something as simple as first grade math.

In 2007, the Missouri General Assembly approved a referendum and placed on the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment designating English as the official language of the state. Voters then went to the polls and approved the measure with nearly 90 percent voting in favor. With that, English became the official language for all governmental proceedings in Missouri. It also means no individual has the right to demand government services in a language other than English.

In a word – brilliant!

This was taken from an editorial published June 24, 2010 in the Ozarks Sentinel, a newspaper covering southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. The author of the editorial was Missouri State Representative Nita Jane Ayres.

“While Missouri hasn’t gone to the same lengths as Arizona, our state has made significant policy changes that effectively deal with illegal immigrants who enter our state. Because of those changes, Missouri is ahead of the game when compared to many other states that are now dealing with this issue,” Ayres wrote. “A common language is the cornerstone of a cohesive and united state and country. Ensuring that English is our official language is simply common sense.”

Ayres added that another measure directly addressing the issue of illegal immigration was approved in 2008, one requiring the Missouri Highway Patrol and other law enforcement officials to verify the immigration status of any person arrested and inform federal authorities if the person is found to be in the state illegally.

Furthermore, the bill makes it clear that illegal immigrants will not have access to taxpayer benefits such as food stamps and health care.

“With the passage of this legislation, Missouri sent a clear message that illegal immigrants are not welcome in our state and that they are certainly not welcome to receive public benefits at the cost of Missouri taxpayers,” Ayres stated.

Since that time, Missouri officials approved a measure that the state’s public institutions of higher education do not award financial aid to individuals who are in the state illegally.

“Immigrants from all parts of the world have helped make our country what it is today,” Ayres wrote. “However, our doors are not open to those who try to live in our country illegally.”

In a time of severe financial strain on North Carolina’s budget, we can save a wad of money by enacting legislation similar to Missouri. I’m all for helping those here legally, no matter their nationality, but shelling out millions to illegal immigrants, who haven’t paid a single penny into the system, while our legal citizens suffer is a travesty that begs to be corrected…and now!

Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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