While the entire country is subject to the adverse effects of current issues like illegal immigration and President Obama’s “amnesty” proposals, the pain is certain to be felt more strongly in border states such as Texas and Arizona. The truth is the pain has been building for law-abiding residents in these states for a long time and it’s reaching the point of critical mass.
Not surprising is the fact illegal immigrants are creating a variety of serious problems throughout the state of Arizona, a state where residents have clearly indicated time and again they are want stronger border protection and an end to anything that might closely resemble amnesty. In the national news, Arizona’s issues have been well-documented. For Arizona voters, a quick review of the pertinent issues is a worthwhile endeavor.
Monetary Issues – According to The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the costs related to dealing with illegal immigrants has been escalating at rates higher than anticipated. As recently as 2009, $2.7 billion was spent by the state dealing with related issues. These costs were incurred in areas such as incarceration, education, healthcare and welfare programs. With $1.6 billion and $694.8 million spent on education and healthcare, respectively, the financial burden on residents is putting a strain on state resources, which stands to decrease funding for infrastructure programs or the raising of state taxes as an alternative. If we were able to stop illegal immigration, it would certainly make it easier to abolish the Arizona state income tax as there would be a decrease in the amount of government spending on services to support non-citizens.
Employment Issues – For local communities still trying to recover from the recession of 2009, residents are in need of jobs, any jobs. In 2011, it is estimated the illegal immigrant population in Arizona stood at approximate 375,000 people. With almost 300,000 of those occupying jobs in the state, it is leaving US citizens standing on the sidelines. This is a large negative for the state’s economy as many of these illegal immigrant workers are being paid under the table, creating the loss of potential tax revenues for the state.
Crime Issues – Arizona has proven to be a safe-haven for Mexican gangs looking to import drugs or convert kidnappings into cold cash. As a by-product, murders, robberies, rapes and aggravated assaults are on the rise. The economic effect of illegal activity created by illegal immigrants was approximately $340 million in 2009. Assuming the number has increased with increased criminal activity, the numbers are becoming unsustainable. According to the Arizona Department of Corrections (2012), 17% of the prison population was in the state illegally at the time of conviction. As Mexican gangs continue getting bolder and more violent, Arizona communities are physically and economically at risk.
Environmental Issues – One of the “dirty” little secrets about illegal immigration is the negative impact on the environment. Illegal immigrants tend to accumulate in areas close to water sources. The trash and contamination (human feces, rotting food, dead carcasses) they leave behind are creating hazards for residents. Fires set by illegals have claimed hundreds of thousands of acres of national forests. The movement of illegal immigrants in protected areas are hurting wildlife preservation efforts. Finally, illegal roads built to support the illegal movement of drugs through the state are damaging natural preserves.
During the upcoming election cycles, it is important for Arizona voters to remember these numbers. Things are getting worse, not better and it’s time to support the people who are looking at the realistic effects of illegal immigration and possible amnesty effort through the eyes of the ones being hurt, Arizona residents.