Starting today, parts of the now infamous SB 1070 Immigration law take effect in the state of Arizona. I say parts, because a federal judge has prohibited some of the provisions from becoming law. Namely, the most controversial aspect that a police officer could stop someone they thought was an illegal alien and ask to see their identification. It will still be illegal for employers to hire day laborers and pay them cash. While many people do not agree with this law, at the same time they realize that something needs to be done about the immigration problem in this country. So, how best to enforce it?
First of all, I think it is important to understand why illegal immigration is a problem. To understand the problem would help to bring about the necessary support for a firm resolution. So, what does it mean to be an illegal immigrant? It could be one of a few things. First, you entered this country illegally. That means with no visa or passport or any other documentation permitting entry. These are the people you see running across the border. Second, Visa overstay. These are people who are permitted entry but remain past their allowed access. This used to be the main cause of illegal immigration, but is now second to illegal entry. Finally, there can also be visa fraud. These are the people who marry solely for the purpose of obtaining a green card, the act of which is illegal in the United States.
So now you know how people can get into this country illegally. As mentioned, border crossing is the new number one cause of immigration, and, according to the U.S. Center of Immigration Studies, approximately 57% of all illegal immigrants are from Mexico. It is no surprise then, that Arizona is trying to take matters into their own hands after a failure of enforcement by the United States Border Patrol and the federal government. But why is this so bad for our country? According to another study conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies, in 2002, households headed by an illegal alien caused the government to spend over $26.3 billion dollars, while only taking in around $16.4 billion, creating an annual deficit of around $10 billion dollars, or broken down, about $2,700 per illegal household. However, the report also indicates that this is caused by their typically low level of education, which results in lower paying jobs and thus, less taxes owed. While these numbers seem huge, the study also confirms that the amount per household is typically less than half that of other households who apply for government benefits, including Medicaid, medical treatment for the uninsured, food assistance programs, the federal prison and court systems, and federal aid to schools.
I'm not here to say that illegal immigrants are bad people. I'm just trying to point out some facts about why they are not good for our country. There is a fantastic report on the entire spectrum of how this impacts our nation over at US Illegal Aliens. One thing I want to really stress here however is how this negatively affects our nation's economy. In this time of recession, it is important to understand how illegal immigration has a profound impact in our country. Many people who cross the border from Mexico do so for financial reasons. Mexico is a poor country. Most people work there for roughly $5 a day. It is easy to see why coming to the United States would look attractive. Many of us complain about an $8/hr salary at our first jobs. But what we don't see is that these immigrants are making all of the money here and then sending it back home to Mexico. Mexico, then, does not want to do anything to stop the immigration because of that influx of money into their system. And we're talking nearly $45 billion dollars in 2006, which probably has only increased since then due to the higher population of immigrants. That alone is the third largest money-making system in Mexico after the exportation of oil and the tourism industry. That is also $45b that will not be spent in American businesses, on American services or kept in American banks. So just there we've already uncovered how the United States could save $55 billion a year by solving this problem. That may not seem like a lot, but it would at least provide some better funding for our wars or other government programs in an attempt to erase the record deficit that our current president is busy creating.
The report I linked to also lists various other factors of how this is killing our country, such as crime, traffic accidents/volume, diseases, loss of jobs (a big one, even though most Americans think that illegal immigrants do the jobs that Americans "don't want"), and potentially, terrorism. Does that sound good for our country? I didn't think so. While I lean left in the political spectrum, this is one issue that I think right or left we can all agree needs to be addressed by the federal government and taken care of. Post your thoughts in the comments below.