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Illegal immigration too costly for Americans

I'm in agreement with President Bush on most issues he addresses. The exception to the rule, though, is his stance on opening up our borders to illegal immigrants.

To put it bluntly, it's costing us Americans too much money.

What's going on in Arizona right now serves as a prime example why we need to close down our borders to the hordes that are making their way into this country on a daily basis. A report released recently by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), entitled "The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Arizonans," shows a nearly nine-fold increase in the costs of illegal immigration during the past decade. The burden on Arizona's taxpayers, growing at a far too rapid pace, is estimated at $700 a year in additional costs to every native-born head of household in that state.

Right now, Arizona is the prime region for illegal immigrants to nestle in and call home. It used to be California. I think most everyone knows what the influx of illegal immigration did to that state's budget. Washington state isn't affected as drastically as California or Arizona, but make no mistake, we Washingtonians are also bearing our share of the costs.

FAIR's report details that Arizonans are paying approximately $1.3 billion annually to fund this wave of illegal immigrants. The biggest chunk of that, about $810 million, goes towards providing education to the illegal aliens and their children. Health care for illegal immigrants, which is threatening to bankrupt numerous hospitals and clinics in Arizona, totals about $400 million a year. It is estimated another $80 million is spent in Arizona each year on incarcerating illegal aliens. As we all know from first-hand knowledge here, many of these illegals do not take the time to learn the laws of our country before jumping across the border to take up residence here.

The report by FAIR also details that only a fraction of the $1.3 billion in annual costs, about $257 million, is offset by what illegal aliens pay in taxes to Arizona.

What's even more alarming than the total amount of money being spent on these illegal aliens is the rate at which these costs are growing.

Says Jack Martin, who authored the report for FAIR: "Perhaps even more astounding than the $1.3 billion a year that uncontrolled illegal immigration is costing Arizona is the rate at which those costs are increasing.

"Between 1996 and 2000, the illegal alien population of Arizona grew by a staggering 150 percent, and that rate of increase has not abated," Martin continues.

Simply put, the federal government, with Bush leading the charge, needs to take steps to stop this flow of illegal immigration.

"While Arizona has become the new illegal gateway to America, and Arizonans have been forced to bear the staggering costs of our failed immigration policy, the state's elected representatives in Washington D.C. have, ironically, been at the forefront of efforts to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens and their families," Martin says.

Martin predicts, quite accurately I believe, that the $1.3 billion Arizona taxpayers are paying now is just a taste of what is to come if the nation doesn't immediately begin enforcing America's immigration laws. And it will only get worse if our elected officials enact the amnesty proposals that Bush advocates.

I'm as much an humanitarian as the next guy. But we need to take care of our own first, before spending billions of dollars on folks who legally shouldn't be in this country. Our top priorities should be feeding and educating Americans. Once that has been accomplished, to the extent where poverty has been wiped out in this country, then let's look at our neighbors across the border and try to give them a hand.

. Bob Story,can be contacted at

(509) 837-4500, or e-mail him



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