Illegal Immigration Still Deserves Attention

Millions of unemployed Americans and millions more at risk of losing their homes after watching their life savings wither away to nothing are rightfully commanding both presidential candidates’ attention as the 2012 election nears. Smoke-and-mirror trickery should be the last subject on any politician’s mind at this point in American history. Nonetheless, voters have a responsibility to remind those vying for political power that some issues not being treated as hot-button topics right now still deserve as much attention as ever, if not more.

Several years ago, the issue of illegal immigration visited Colorado with especially disturbing force when an off-duty police officer was shot and killed while picking up extra money working a side job as a security guard at a wedding reception in Denver. The suspect, a Mexican immigrant in the U.S. illegally, was, much to the embarrassment of then Denver mayor John Hickenlooper, employed (illegally) at a restaurant owned by Hickenlooper.

While human life is priceless, the 113 billion dollars illegal immigration annually costs taxpayers is a more tangible yardstick, especially given that this amount equals approximately $1,114 per legal U.S. citizen per year. This price tag includes, among other things, prosecution, housing, education, and health care for illegals, who often leave the tab for U.S. taxpayers to pick up when they return to their home countries.

Those who support illegal immigration claim that illegal immigrants contribute as much as 5% to the local, state, and national economies, and 50% of those who are indeed illegal but paid legally contribute to Social Security and unemployment funds but do not collect. However, many in a position to know disagree. Arizona treasurer Dean Martin estimates his state loses as much as $2.3 billion dollars a year due to issues relating directly to illegal immigration; moreover, illegal immigration leads to indirect costs such as higher auto insurance, with police departments stretched to the breaking point as the state is a popular gateway for those entering the U.S. illegally.

As politicians struggle to find a way out of America’s economic mess, we need to send them a message that the $113 billion price tag from illegal immigration is $113 billion dollars too much. Maybe the answer is to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants or, on the other hand, build a “wall” separating us from them. Maybe we should make it harder for illegals to stay here through stricter laws and regulations, to include leveling stricter punishments on those who hire illegals. And yes, some think we should even make English the official language of the U.S., making it difficult for those who do not speak English to live here. Whatever the decision(s) may be, something needs to change, and for the better. I hope our politicians are listening.