Washington D.C. - In data released "exclusively to FoxNews.com," the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) - architects of the new Arizona law SB1070 - claim that unauthorized immigrants in Arizona are costing the state's taxpayers $2.7 billion per year for education, medical care, and incarceration. The release of this "fiscal analysis" takes advantage of the absence of any legitimate economic analysis by the state on what SB1070 will cost. However, judging from FAIR's track record when it comes to these kinds of state estimates, it is likely that their numbers are virtually meaningless. In its most recent state studies on unauthorized immigration in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, for instance, FAIR has dramatically exaggerated the fiscal "costs" imposed by unauthorized immigrants by including schooling and medical care for their native-born, U.S.-citizen children in its estimate, and conveniently forgetting to account for the economic role that unauthorized workers play as consumers who help support local economies.
Washington D.C. - Today, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer may sign into law a bill that has the potential to sink her state much deeper into the red than it already is. Touting a $10 million investment into local law enforcement from discretionary federal stimulus money the state received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Governor Brewer is gambling with Arizona's economy. The costs associated with SB 1070 have not been quantified by the Arizona legislature but it is safe to assume that $10 million dollars is only a drop in the bucket towards what it would actually cost to enforce this law.
In Arizona, when a bill is introduced in the state legislature, a "fiscal note" is attached which lays out the cost of implementation. In the case of SB 1070, the accompanying fiscal note is shockingly lacking in detail, concluding that "the fiscal impact of this bill cannot be determined with certainty. We do not have a means to quantify the number of individuals arrested under the bill's provisions or the impact on the level of illegal immigration." At a time when Arizona is facing a multi-billion dollar deficit, however, enacting an enforcement program that will surely run into the hundreds of millions of dollars is fiscally irresponsible at best.
In the absence of any current fiscal data on the cost of SB 1070's implementation, some Arizonans are pointing to a fact sheet produced by Yuma County Sheriff Ralph E. Ogden in response to similar legislation proposed in 2006. Yuma County is one of Arizona's 15 counties, with a population of about 200,000.
Washington, D.C.- Frustrated by Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, states across the country continue considering legislation that relies heavily on punitive, enforcement-only measures which not only fail to end unauthorized immigration but also have the potential to dig their state's finances deeper into a hole.
The latest example of this kind of policy nose dive is in Arizona. A recent bill, "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" (SB 1070), was passed by the Arizona State legislature and awaits the signature of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. As the Governor ponders whether or not to put her signature on SB 1070, she should consider the potential economic impact of the bill, which would require police to check a person's immigration status if they suspect that person is in the United States illegally. This bill, if it becomes law, will likely affect not only unauthorized immigrants, but all immigrants and Latinos in general. Given the vital role that immigrants and Latinos play in Arizona's economy, and considering Arizona's current budget deficit of $3 billion dollars, enacting SB 1070 could be a perilous move.
Washington D.C. - A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), entitled Immigrant Legalization: Assessing the Labor Market Effects, yields both some enlightening and some potentially misleading results about the likely impact of a legalization program. Because the PPIC report focuses on legal status acquired under current immigration law, it does not reflect the long-term benefits and gains that follow from a comprehensive immigration reform package which includes legalization.
While the PPIC report dovetails with other reports when it concludes that legalization would not have a negative impact on native workers' wages and employment, their findings on the wages and mobility of the newly legalized differ from other academic studies on how immigrants fare after legalization. This difference can be attributed to the fact that PPIC looks at legalization only, and how the newly legalized are doing just 4-13 months after becoming legalized. Almost all other previous studies haven take a longer term view of their success.
PPIC relies upon data from the New Immigrant Survey (NIS), a sample of foreign-born individuals who acquired legal permanent resident (LPR) status between May and November 2003. It is important to keep in mind that the NIS is not representative of the unauthorized-immigrant population as a whole. As opposed to the individuals captured in the NIS, most unauthorized immigrants do not have a means of acquiring legal status. Moreover, individuals in the NIS were interviewed 4-13 months after acquiring LPR status.
Washington, D.C. - Today, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a long-awaited report that offers a damning critique of the 287(g) program, confirming many of the criticisms levied against the program by community leaders, law enforcement officials, and immigration groups, including the Immigration Policy Center. Despite problems with the 287(g) program, it has recently been expanded to additional jurisdictions.
The report, The Performance of 287(g) Agreements, identifies numerous shortcomings that lead to abuse and mismanagement and raises serious questions about the wisdom of state and local immigration enforcement partnerships with ICE.
Washington D.C. - This Sunday, the editorial pages of the Washington Post included a piece penned by journalist George Will on the topic of birthright citizenship. Will highlights a scholar who argues against giving those born in the United States birthright citizenship and characterizes the repeal of a 150 year-old constitutional tenet as "a simple reform." Normally, the idea of stripping those born in America of their right to citizenship has been relegated to the domain of immigration restrictionists and select politicians who try to exploit it for electoral gains. In endorsing this argument, Mr. Will has looked past a whole body of research which examines the dramatic and far- reaching consequences this would have on American society.
The arguments about birthright citizenship revolve around the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, which affirms that all persons born in the United States (and subject to its jurisdiction) have a birthright to citizenship. A repeal of the 14th amendment is sometimes raised as a "cure" to our current broken immigration system, when in reality it takes us further away from the larger conversation that must be had about how we can fairly and efficiently revamp American immigration. Proposing solutions to the symptoms, rather than the root causes of a broken system, do nothing to solve our overall immigration problems and create divisions and dysfunctions in our society at all levels.
Washington D.C. - Today, in the Washington Post, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) laid out their blueprint for immigration reform legislation, noting that the American people want Congress to reform the badly broken immigration system. Their framework, welcomed by the President in a statement also released today, rests on four pillars: ending illegal employment through biometric Social Security cards, enhancing border and interior enforcement, managing the flow of future immigration to correspond to economic realities, and creating a tough but fair path toward legalization for the 11 million people currently in the U.S. without authorization. While there will undoubtedly be intense debate over the specifics of each component, the framework marks an important bipartisan step forward on an issue that has been mired in political controversy and held up by both parties for too long.
"Today's statements mark renewed commitment to providing immigration reform that will bolster the economy and provide for America's future," said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center. "We encourage the President and Senators Schumer and Graham to go beyond words and produce legislation that will finally fix our broken immigration system once and for all."
Washington D.C. - In the State of the Union Address this evening President Obama made clear his ongoing commitment to immigration reform noting "we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system - to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation." Some may continue to argue that immigration reform is too politically risky to move on this year and that we should focus instead on rebuilding our economy. However, comprehensive immigration reform is compatible with economic reform as it would generate needed economic growth, create jobs and increase tax contributions by ensuring that everyone working in the United States is doing so legally. In fact, immigration reform would allow us to take full advantage of the opportunities for economic growth that immigrants bring.
Immigration Yields Tremendous Economic Benefits to America
Massachusetts Senator-Elect Scott Brown will shortly step into the Senate seat held for nearly half a century by one of the most loyal champions of immigrants to ever sit in Congress. Because of that history, Bay Staters have come to expect that their Senators will understand the important contributions of immigrants to the growth and well-being of their state. Regardless of politics or ideology, as the new Senator gets down to the business of representing his entire state, understanding the significant role of immigrants will become essential.
Of all the New England states, Senator Brown's immigrant and new American constituents are perhaps the most diverse and numerous, continuing the tradition of generations of immigrants who helped build Massachusetts. The Immigration Policy Center has compiled research that shows immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are a political and economic powerhouse in Massachusetts, contributing billions to the state economy, and are part of the very economic engine that keeps the Bay State running strong.