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Alabama and Georgia politicians echo support for border security

Federal politicians in Alabama and Georgia are standing by President Donald Trump and his demands for a border wall at the United States southern board between U.S. and Mexico. 

During his Tuesday night address to the nation, Trump urged congressional Democrats to fund his long-promised border wall to end the federal government shutdown that has stretched into its third week.

Trump said the wall was needed to resolve a security and humanitarian “crisis,” blaming illegal immigration for what he said was a scourge of drugs and violence in the U.S. and asking: “How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?”

U.S. Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, said Wednesday that he commends the president’s efforts to secure the border.

“We know that walls work in preventing illegal immigration, which is why I support additional funding for border security,” Rogers said in an emailed statement to The Valley Times-News Wednesday. “I urge my colleagues in the House to take up legislation to prevent illegal immigration and protect American citizens, as we have traditionally done in a bipartisan manner.”

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, said the president is correct in his claim for more security at the southern border.

“President Trump is absolutely right about the urgent need to secure our border,” he said. “This is a very serious issue, and it is time we come together and work it out for the good of the American people.”

Drew Ferguson, who represents Georgia’s 3rd U.S. Congressional District as a Republican, also supports the wall, saying Republicans are ready to negotiate to reopen the government and invest in the nation’s border security.

“Meanwhile, House Democrats are holding show votes this week on bills they already know the Senate will not consider instead of coming to the table to negotiate,” Ferguson said in an email Wednesday. “I will continue to stand with the President to ensure our nation’s borders are secure. It is long past time for the Democrats to join these conversations so that we can find a path forward to reopen the government.”

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after Trump’s speech Tuesday that the House would begin passing bills this week to reopen some federal agencies, starting with the Treasury Department, to ensure citizens receive tax refunds.

Trump said the standoff between the two political parties could be resolved in 45 minutes if Democrats would negotiate.

U.S. Senator David Perdue, R-Georgia, said Wednesday that there is a national security crisis on the southern border that even former President Barack Obama called out. He said it’s time for people in Washington to “act like an adult and get this done.”

“The American people expect us to get this done,” Perdue said on Bloomberg Television Wednesday. “What you saw (Tuesday) is the people’s President talking directly to them about what needs to be done to secure our borders.”

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, said while he appreciates the president’s urgency to address border control, shutting down the government is never a good idea.

“I’m hopeful that all sides will come to the table without delay and work in good faith to find common ground on a way forward on reopening the government while seeking solutions to secure our border,” he said in an email Wednesday.

During his speech Tuesday night, the president described several incidents in which illegal aliens committed violent crimes against Americans.

In response, Democrats accused Trump of appealing to “fear, not facts” and manufacturing a border crisis for political gain. In their own televised remarks, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of misrepresenting the situation on the border as they urged him to reopen closed government departments and turn loose paychecks for hundreds of thousands of workers.

Schumer said Trump “just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.”

    The Associated Press contributed to the report.

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — Larry Langford, the former Birmingham mayor whose captivating political career was ended by a conviction on public corruption charges, died on Tuesday. He was 72.

His death was confirmed by his lawyer, Tiffany Johnson Cole.

Langford died a little more than a week after being released from federal prison because of his failing health. The cause of death was not announced but attorneys said earlier that Langford had end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema.

Langford was raised in poverty in a Birmingham housing project but rose to become one of the Birmingham area’s most charismatic and influential leaders.

He served in the U.S. military and in the early 1970s became one the first black television reporters in the city of Birmingham. Langford served as mayor of Fairfield, the president of the Jefferson County Commission and mayor of Birmingham.

With a flair for the theatrical, he never shied away from big ideas for the areas he served.

During his political career, he championed the creation of an amusement park called Visionland and other efforts to make Birmingham a tourism destination. His unrealized plans included bringing the Olympics to Birmingham and building a domed stadium.

“Mayor Langford had an unmatched love for his community – a love he expressed through his boldness and creativity,” current Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said Tuesday.

Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales said Langford, while unconventional in his approach, “was a pioneer and visionary who was well ahead of his time.”

His political career ended in 2009 when he was convicted of taking bribes — in the form of cash, clothing and a Rolex— as a member of the county commission in exchange for steering bond business to an investment banker. A federal judge sentenced Langford to 15 years in prison.

“He sold Jefferson County out” Assistant U.S. Attorney George Martin said at his 2010 sentencing.

Langford maintained his innocence.

“This whole thing, my being in prison, found guilty by a jury that said it had made up its mind before hearing any testimony and sitting here watching elected officials take credit for my work just adds insult to injury,” Langford told The Birmingham News in 2013.

Langford’s supporters for years had lobbied for his release from prison because of his ill health.