Apr 232010
This Land Belongs to Those Who Work It
Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

What part of “illegal immigration” do liberals have difficulty understanding? The legislation now waiting for Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer’s signature is an attempt by the State of Arizona to address a real issue. Is the proposed law the best way to address the problem? I’ll take a stand and say, “No.” But in the vacuum of any federal action, something has to happen.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) estimated the number of illegal immigrants in Arizona in 1992 to be around 57,000. By 2006, that number had swelled to 500,000, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The fact is that, today, regardless of the source of the numbers, you have to recognize that somewhere near 10 percent of the population of Arizona is there illegally. Do you think the federal government would remain idle if this were the case in all fifty states?

It’s far too easy for people outside of the states directly impacted by illegal immigration to cast the issue solely in the light of civil rights. But in Arizona, California, Texas and other states, the impact is real and growing at an alarming rate. Since illegal immigrants are here . . . well . . . “illegally,” it’s difficult to get accurate numbers, but even conservative estimates place the current number of illegal aliens at 12 million nationwide and agree that they’re numbers are growing between 500,000 and 1 million every year.

Regardless of what people want to think, these numbers place both a social and economic toll on the states where the problem is concentrated. Contrary to liberal assertions, residents of Arizona are not in favor of the new legislation by a 70 percent majority because they’re all racial bigots. They support action because they’re experiencing a rise in crime while also going through difficult economic times, and both issues are exacerbated by the real effects of illegal immigration.

The fact is that the federal government is not enforcing control of our border with Mexico, and that lack of enforcement presents a range of very real issues. Never mind the national security concerns, which in the light of global terrorism are not trivial, you’re still left with the effects of crime and a huge burden on state economies. There is a cost for illegal immigration. It directly impacts the safety of American citizens and impedes our ability to provide the education and healthcare they need.

In case you haven’t noticed, states across the Country are having serious budget issues. Cuts are being made just to make ends meet, and one area that’s suffering greatly is education. Since the 1982 Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision, states have been legally saddled with the expense to educate illegal alien students. Again, accurate cost estimates are difficult to determine, but according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), “The total K-12 school expenditure for illegal immigrants costs the states nearly $12 billion annually, and when the children born here to illegal aliens are added, the costs more than double to $28.6 billion.” And this is really just the tip of the iceberg. When dual-language costs and free lunch programs are taken into account, the price tag gets larger still. Add the potential costs of liberal proposals to provide in-state tuitions and you’re starting to see the picture.

Of course, education isn’t the only affected area. Healthcare is another concern. In accordance with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, hospitals are required to provide medical treatment to whoever enters their doors, regardless of immigration status. This is obviously a sound humanitarian policy, but since illegal aliens are rarely covered by any sort of health insurance, this becomes the de facto standard for their medical care. Not only does this dynamic clog hospital waiting rooms and inhibit their ability to provide real emergency care, but it also adds significantly to healthcare costs by utilizing expensive hospital services for routine care. A 2004 study conducted by FAIR estimated the uncompensated cost for Arizona to be $400 million, and with the illegal population continuing to grow, so are the costs.

The rest of America can ignore these economic issues if they choose. They can also ignore the increases in crime, in violent crime like murder. They can ignore the fact that an American city, Phoenix, Arizona, is now second in the world, behind Mexico City, in its number of kidnappings. Yes, Americans can continue to ignore illegal immigration, but they do so at their own future cost.

Illegal immigration is not a racial issue. The issue is that a crime is being perpetrated upon the citizens of America, and the federal government is allowing it to happen. This situation negatively impacts the lives of Americans every day. As you consider the issue, ask yourself how you would like for your home to become threatened by increases in crime. Ponder the economic consequences, which in addition to those mentioned above include, the cost of incarceration, which the FAIR study estimated to be $80 million in 2004, the effects on the depression of wages, and negative impact on resources and the environment. Do this, and you will hopefully begin to appreciate the full context of the issue and its impact on law abiding American citizens.

The Arizona legislation is being unfairly characterized as racially motivated and hate-based, and the liberals carrying that message should be ashamed of themselves. Just as the Republican hyperbole over healthcare reform was stretched to the incendiary extreme, so are the worst case scenarios now being spewed by liberals. If liberals want to be part of the solution for illegal immigration, then they’ll be well served to address ALL of the issues and not simply be the immigration “Party of No.”

Admittedly, there is potential for abuse in the Arizona law, but that’s really no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. The Arizona legislation needs clarification of the methods for its implementation. The law does prohibit racial profiling, which will be difficult, but at some point trust needs to be placed in law enforcement. The fact is that unauthorized immigration is already illegal; the Arizona law simply enables State and local authorities to enforce laws that the federal government has neglected.

If you’re truly concerned with civil liberty, then let your voice be heard and demand that the federal government finally move beyond lip service and address illegal immigration. America needs a comprehensive solution for these issues. That solution will likely include some sort of “guest worker” program and allow for some amount of planned LEGAL immigration of those here illegally. Whatever the solution looks like in the end, America needs secure borders and enforcement of immigration laws. Said enforcement will obviously require people to show proof of their legal status. That proof could be as simple as a card, but let’s be honest — there’s no way to actually enforce the laws without such a requirement.

Don’t kid yourself, this is without doubt a civil rights issue, but the rights in question are those of all law abiding American citizens. Our government is based on a system of laws, without which we would have anarchy. Immigration and border control are an integral part of that system, and those who decide to break the law should be held accountable.

We as Americans agree to abide by the law. Is there any possible justification for not requiring that foreign nationals do so as well?

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  4 Responses to “Illegal immigration is not a racial issue”

  1. Well said. :)

  2. Good article. I used the information from this article for the closing argument of my AP Government and Politics debate, in which I successfully argued for the S.B. 1070. Thanks. I cited this on my Works Cited page!

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