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Just how severe is the Illegal Immigration problem?
The Impact of Illegal Immigration is equivalent to a Hurricane Katrina every year spread over 50 states and all social and economic sectors. Over $100 Billion per Year –
from Education to Disease Introduction and Propagation
to Anchor Babies & Healthcare
to Drugs and Crime and Law Enforcement & Prisons
to Welfare and Job Displacement & Losses among our own Youth and Black populations and the Retired
to Environment Impact and Invasive Species
to Cultural & Language Degradation and Balkanization due to lack of Acculturation
to skewed Voter Redistricting
to Capital Flight
to Social Security Scams
to Mortgage Scams
to Bank Money Laundering
to Enabling a Corrupt Oligarchy on our Southern Border (Mexico).
How many immigrants come to the U.S.?
In 2001, more than one million immigrants were admitted to the United States. Additionally, about 500,000 entered illegally. This is nearly four times as many immigrants as we were receiving only 30 years ago.
Where are immigrants to the U.S. coming from?
About 20 percent come from Mexico. India, China, and the Philippines each send between five to seven percent. The following countries each send between two and three percent of our immigrants: Vietnam, El Salvador, Cuba, Haiti, Bosnia, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Ukraine, Korea, Russia, and Nicaragua. Together, these top 15 sending countries account for about 60 percent of all immigration to the U.S. The remaining 40 percent is composed of very small shares from a large number of other countries.
Who is able to immigrate?
Most immigration (almost two-thirds) is sponsored by family members in this country who most often immigrated themselves and are now legal permanent residents or have become U.S. citizens. Smaller shares of admissions (about one-sixth) go to workers (and their families) whom employers say they need to complement the native workforce, and to refugees and asylees (about one-tenth). In addition, about one out of every 25 admissions visas is given away by lottery.
Who is responsible for U.S. immigration policy?
As a sovereign state, the United States has the right and responsibility to regulate the permanent and temporary admissions of non-citizens. This authority is vested in the Congress, which makes the laws that determine the basis on which visas are authorized (although refugee admissions are proposed annually by the President for concurrance by the Congress). The regulations that promulgate those laws are developed and administered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) a division of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Within the INS, there are the Border Patrol, which monitors the borders against illegal entry; the INS Inspectors, who monitor people entering the U.S. at ports of entry such as airports; INS Investigators, who track down violators of immigration law; and immigration judges (appointed by the Attorney General), who hear cases on violations of immigration law and regulation. Independent from the INS but still within in the DOJ, there is a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) administered by the Executive Office for Immigration Review; the BIA hears appeals of decisions by the immigration judges.
Is immigration different now than it used to be?
Immigration is much higher now than it has historically been. Through most of our country’s history (more than 180 years), we took in fewer than 500,000 immigrants a year; for more than 135 of those years, it was fewer than 300,000 immigrants. In 2001, our country admitted 1,064,318 legal immigrants, as well as an estimated additional 500,000 illegal immigrants. Only seven years in our entire history have had as many immigrants as we received in 2001.
Why should we reduce immigration?
Because so many of today’s immigrants are low-skilled, mass immigration brings competition for entry-level jobs, harming American low-skilled workers. Because most of today’s immigrants are poor, they are a drain on our fiscal resources and our economy. Because immigrants are being admitted faster they assimilate, mass immigration is causing social strain and strife among different groups. And because immigration is the source of most population growth in the U.S., it strains the environment and our natural resources.
How many immigrants should we have?
FAIR believes we should strive for a system in which continuing immigration does not add to our population size. That would mean admitting between 200,000 and 300,000 immigrants a year. This would allow us to maximize the positive effects of immigration without overwhelming our environment, schools, social services, and other institutions. It would also contribute to U.S. population stability over the long-term.
How would such a system work?
We should set an overall cap of 200,000 a year with selection criteria based on our national interest. The key is to discontinue our current system of “chain migration,” where one immigrant can begin a chain of relatives that continues and expands for years. Instead, we should tell the primary immigrant at the time of initial admission that he or she can bring a spouse and any unmarried, minor children-and that’s it. In that way, we can maintain an annual cap on the overall numbers
Arguments you will hear�and the replies to have ready!
�Immigration is a big part of American tradition and national character. We are a nation of immigrants. �
The fact is, immigration levels today are far higher than traditional levels; in the mid 1950s, our immigration was less than one-third what it is today. Also, the U.S. today is a very different country than in years past. We�re now a fully populated nation of almost 290 million people, not the sparsely settled territory of 150 years ago. Today we�re concerned about limiting sprawl, overcrowding, and environmental stress. Yet, if today�s rate of immigration is continued, it will add nearly 150 million people to our population over the next 80 years. How will that help achieve a single U.S. objective? Will it decrease traffic and other forms of congestion, improve water tables, decrease school overcrowding, cut oil consumption, reduce housing costs? Not one single domestic objective of our nation is being facilitated by today�s mass migration.
�Immigration has been good for us in the past and has made our nation great.�
Immigration in the past did bring benefits–in the past, the U.S. needed large numbers of people to settle the frontiers, cut forests, build railroads, mine gold, and much more. Today�s priorities are preserving our remaining wilderness areas, conserving our natural resources, and ensuring a better quality of life for future generations.
Furthermore, immigration in the past has been quite limited. History shows us that immigration at high levels is not beneficial, which is why the country cut back immigration after the brief Ellis Island period. In the past, we have successfully absorbed and assimilated immigrants because we have periodically halted immigration.
�Throughout our history, people have always attacked immigration and they have always been wrong.�
While people have opposed immigration for a variety of motives over the years, Americans have always had legitimate concerns about immigration and its effects on our population, economy, and society. While we have coped successfully with some of these concerns in the past, that is largely because mass immigration to this country was stopped, not because the concerns were unfounded.
�Immigration is less of a problem today because immigrants comprise a smaller share of our overall population than ever before.�
Quite the opposite is true. When there were fewer people in this country, there was more room and opportunity for immigrants. Now, in a country already stuffed with well over a quarter of a billion people, adding another million through immigration every year is much more of a problem. The more people we have in our country, the fewer immigrants can be added without unwanted consequences.
�Opposition to high immigration is rooted in racism.�
There are always people who support the right idea for the wrong reasons–but that doesn�t make the idea itself wrong. None of this changes the fact that bringing a million additional people from other countries into this one is disruptive to our economy, our society, and our environment. We condemn racism. But we also condemn the use of terms such as �anti-immigrant,� �racist,� or �xenophobe� as they are used to try to stifle open, honest discussion of how our immigration policy is impacting the country.
�Immigrants are a driving force behind our economy, performing jobs that Americans won�t do.�
There are no jobs Americans won�t do, only conditions and wages that are unacceptable. The employers who have become economically dependent on immigrants for cheap labor use this argument to justify virtual indentured servitude and then try to shame Americans into accepting it. Job competition by waves of new immigrants depresses the wages and salaries of American workers and hits hardest at minority workers and those without high school degrees.
�Immigrants don�t take jobs from Americans, they create more jobs.�
Actually, both are true. But many of those jobs created are jobs in providing services to immigrants. Other jobs that immigrants create are generally low-skilled and mostly go to other other immigrants anyway. This doesn�t really benefit Americans at all; it simply creates distortions in the economy, generally away from the high-skills, high-education, high-wage economy most Americans support. And it doesn�t in any way address the increased burdens on our schools, environment, social services, and natural resources that bringing in so many additional people causes.
�We live in a global economy and must have foreign workers to compete in the world market.�
Very little immigration is of skilled personnel. Besides, it is precisely because of advances in global communications that we do not have to allow people to move to the U.S. to take advantage of their talents and benefit from their contributions.
�Immigrants are a net benefit, because they pay taxes and contribute more to our society than they cost.�
The seminal study of the costs of immigration by the National Academy of Sciences found that the taxes paid by immigrants do not cover the cost of services received by them. A calculation to the contrary works only if you discount the programs used by the immigrants� children, refugees and asylees, immigrants who aren�t of working age, illegal immigrants working �off the books,� and immigrants from certain countries.
This argument also ignores the impact of sacrificing farmland and forests to roads and housing developments, increasing congestion to the point that people spend more time in traffic than at home with their families, and raising the burden on our already strained water supply and other natural resources.
�A country as big as America has room for lots more people.�
A country isn�t a big box that you stuff as many people in as possible. It�s a society supported by an environment, and the question isn�t how many people can physically fit in it, but how many people the society wants and the environment can support. Many of the �wide open spaces � in the U.S. are inhospitable deserts or mountains, or are already used as farmland to raise food to support the population living on the coasts and to export to feed people in other countries.
�Immigrants catch up quickly economically and soon blend into American society.�
There is increasing evidence of groups of immigrants who are trapped in depressed inner cities, and their children similarly find themselves unable to escape poverty. Today more than 21 million people in our country say that they speak English less than very well. Besides, the hub of the problem is not the rate at which immigrants are assimilating, it�s the rate at which we are admitting them. As long as we have mass immigration, the bulk of unassimilated people in our culture will grow, causing social tension and conflict.
�Illegal immigration is the only real problem, not legal immigration.�
The distinction between legal and illegal immigrants is increasingly blurred by programs such as the amnesty in 1986 that gave legal status to nearly three million illegal residents and provisions that allow illegal immigrants to become legal residents if they marry someone legally here, i.e., Section 245(i). There is little difference between the societal effects from illegal immigrants and from those who were amnestied (and the same is true to a large extent for family members sponsored by former illegal aliens).
�We have a humanitarian obligation to take in struggling people from other countries.�
We can�t solve the world�s problems by importing a tiny fraction of the millions who would like to come here. Instead, we should solve problems where people live and help them turn their countries into places that people aren�t driven to leave. But although the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that foreign aid and assistance is best utilized when the resources are spent on alleviating problems at their source, the U.S. channels a large share of its refugee resources on the transportation, language training, cultural adaptation, and assistance grants to refugees resettled in the United States that could benefit many more refugees if expended on temporary shelter and sustenance at refugee facilities near the refugees� homeland and in the refugees� eventual return to their homes.
It should be noted, however, that the United States admits as refugees many persons who are not true refugees under the United Nations� standard, e.g. people from Cuba who do not qualify for asylum in this country.
The Costs of Illegal Immigration to Arizonans: Executive Summary
Analysis of the latest Census data indicates that Arizona�s illegal immigrant population is costing the state�s taxpayers about $1.3 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. Even if the estimated tax contributions of illegal immigrant workers are subtracted, net outlays still amount to about $1.3 billion per year. The annual fiscal burden borne by Arizonans amounts to more than $700 per household headed by a native-born resident.
This analysis looks specifically at the costs of education, health care and incarceration because they represent the largest cost areas and because a 1994 study conducted by the Urban Institute, which also examined these same costs, provides a useful baseline for comparison ten years later. Other studies have been conducted in the interim, showing trends that support the conclusions of this report.
As this report will note, other significant costs associated with illegal immigration exist and should be taken into account by federal and state officials. But even without accounting for all of the multitude of areas in which costs are being incurred by Arizona taxpayers, the programs analyzed in this study indicate that the burden is substantial and that the costs are rapidly increasing.
The $1.3 billion in costs incurred by Arizona taxpayers is comprised of outlays in the following areas:
* Education. Based on estimates of the illegal immigrant population in Arizona and documented costs of K-12 schooling, Arizonans spend approximately $820 million annually on education for illegal immigrant children and for their U.S.-born siblings.
* Health Care. Uncom-pensated medical outlays for health care provided to the state�s illegal alien population is now estimated at about $400 million a year.
* Incarceration. The cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in Arizona prisons and jails amounts to about $80 million a year (not including the monetary costs of the crimes that led to their incarceration).
The unauthorized immigrant population pays some state and local taxes that go toward offsetting these costs, but they do not come near to matching the expenses. The total of such payments might generously be estimated at $257 million per year.
The fiscal costs of illegal immigration do not end with these three major cost items. The total costs of illegal immigration to the state�s taxpayers would be considerably higher if other costs such as special English instruction, school nutrition programs, or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal alien workers were added into the equation.
State Population (2004 CB estimate) 5,743,834
Population Increase 1990-2000 1,465,404
Foreign-Born Population 770,200
Percent Foreign-Born 13.8%
Illegal Resident Population 283,0001
2025 Population Projection 6,412,000
Additional Census Bureau, INS, and other immigration-related data are available for Arizona.
Immigration-driven population growth is taking its toll on Arizona, the second fastest growing state in the U.S. During the last decade, nearly 1.5 million new residents settled in Arizona�the equivalent of adding more people than the entire population of the city of Phoenix to the state, and an increase larger than the entire population of the state in 1960. More than one-quarter of these new residents were immigrants.
This influx�and the accompanying costs for health care, police, incarceration, schools, and other services�has become a financial and quality of life catastrophe that Arizona can no longer ignore.
Arizona’s Population Growth
From 1990 to 2000, Arizona�s population increased by 40 percent�three times faster than the national average. During the 1990s, Arizona gained 1.5 million residents, reaching a total population of 5.1 million people in 2000.
Maricopa County gained the most people of any county in the U.S. in the last decade, adding almost 1 million people. Arizona was also home to three of the U.S.�s top ten fastest growing large cities during the 1990s: Gilbert, Peoria, and Chandler.
Foreign-Born PopulationArizona Foreign-Born Population
The increase in the foreign-born population during the 1990s accounted for 26 percent of the state�s overall population increase during the decade. Foreign-born residents now account for 13 percent of the state�s total population.
Arizona�s foreign-born population increased 136 percent during the 1990s, the ninth largest percent increase in the country. Between 1990 and 2000, Arizona gained almost 380,000 immigrants, bringing the total number of foreign-born residents in the state to over 650,000.
Trends for the FutureArizona Immigrant Stock
The Census Bureau’s middle series projection estimates that Arizona’s population will increase by 34 percent between 2000 and 2025, to 6.4 million.2
Impact on Environment and Quality of Life
Health Care: Arizona hospitals spend $150 million annually to provide care to illegal aliens, according to the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.4 Some hospitals in rural counties have had to scale down or discontinue some services for the general population in order to continue to pay for care for illegal aliens.5
The health department in Cochise County, where the population of illegal aliens is estimated to have increased by 48 percent since 1999, spends almost a third of its budget on care for illegal aliens. At least one hospital there�Southeast Arizona Medical Center�has filed for bankruptcy and is in danger of closing due to uncompensated care for illegal aliens.6,7
Increasingly frustrated with millions of dollars in uncompensated care, University Medical Center (Tucson) hospital administrators are reporting uninsured immigrants who don�t pay their medical bills to immigration officials. UMC incurred $3.3 million in immigrants� unpaid bills in one four-month period in 2003. At least three Arizona hospitals are sending bill collectors into Mexico to try to obtain payment.8
Water: Population growth means additional demands for water in this desert state. Phoenix is already predicting that it only has enough water to support demand through 2017.9 And population growth is negating water conversation efforts: Although residents have successfully cut their per capita water consumption by nearly 40 percent since the start of the last decade, total water use in 2004 was the same as in 1990.10
Traffic: As population growth puts more traffic on the roads, the average commute for Arizona residents increased 15 percent during the 1990s, to 22 minutes in 2000. This was a faster rate of increase than the national average of 14 percent.11,12 Phoenix area commuters spend 61 hours a year in rush hour traffic, triple what it was two decades ago.
Phoenix is now the fifth most congested area in the country,13 with roads so congested that the fire department has trouble reaching accident victims�and is considering adding motorcycles to its fleet to speed up response times.14
Despite a $122 million plan to widen Interstate 10, state transportation officials say the freeway will be �bumper to bumper,� with more cars than road space, by 2025 because of population growth.15
Disappearing open space: As Arizona�s population has risen, so has the need for additional housing: The total number of housing units in Arizona increased by 32 percent during the 1990s.16,17 This has led to dramatic losses of open space; Maricopa County, home to more than 60 percent of the state�s population, consumes an acre of farmland every hour.18
National Parks: Migrant smuggling is causing serious harm to the fragile ecosystems and natural resources in southeastern Arizona, a recent government report found. It reported that wilderness areas are being damaged by the creation of unwanted trails and roads, damage to existing trails, and large amounts of trash: �This proliferation of trails damages and destroys cactus and other sensitive vegetation, disrupts or prohibits revegetation, disturbs wildlife and their cover and travel routes, causes soil compaction and erosion, impacts stream bank stability, and often times confuses legitimate users of trails on federal lands.�19
An environmental impact study of the damage to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, where officials caught 200,000 illegal aliens in 2001, finds that it could take 20 years for the area to recover from damage wrought by smugglers and illegal aliens trekking through.20 200 miles of unauthorized roads have been carved into the park�s wilderness.21 Arizona Naturalization
Lack of affordable housing: As population rises, the housing supply often can�t keep pace with the demand, causing housing prices to rise sharply. Over the past decade, the median price of an existing house in metropolitan Phoenix�where nearly a third of households are affected by lack of affordable housing22�has increased by 70 percent.23 Arizona workers who earn minimum wage must work 117 hours per week in order to afford a two-bedroom unit at the area�s fair market rent. Arizona�s housing wage (the amount a full-time worker must earn per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent) is $15, but its minimum wage is $5.15.24
Crowded housing: More than one in ten households live in crowded or substandard conditions,25 and 80,000 state residents (four percent of the population) live in severely crowded housing, a 72 percent increase since 1990.26,27 Studies show that a rise in crowded housing often correlates with an increase in the number of foreign-born.28,29
Sprawl: As population growth forces development further and further out from traditional metropolitan centers, Phoenix and Tucson are in danger of forming one giant megalopolis.30
Crime: Arizona�s overcrowded prison system (built for 26,000 inmates but holding more than 30,000) accounts for 10.7 of the state�s general budget fund (up from 4 percent 24 years ago). Mexican nationals account for ten percent of Arizona�s prisoner population.31
Poverty: 25 percent of immigrants in Arizona have incomes below the poverty level. Among non-citizen immigrants, the rate climbs to 30 percent.32
Immigration and School Overcrowding
Nearly one-third (31 percent) of Arizona children have immigrant parents. Seven percent are themselves foreign-born.33 This influx of immigrants and their children is contributing to severe school overcrowding problems in the state.
Between 1990 and 2000, Arizona�s elementary and high school enrollment increased 44 percent. While school enrollment is projected to increase by only four percent nationally between 2001 and 2013, Arizona is expecting a twelve percent increase. 34
In Phoenix, schools are so crowded that some students are attending classes in a former mall and in a converted grocery store.35 In Mesa, schools have even run out of room for classroom trailers, so 700 elementary school students attend classes in an old grocery store.36 In Gilbert, which is growing faster than any U.S. community its size, schools are so crowded that some students were without desks and cafeteria tables at the start of the 2003-04 school year.37 Arizona�s student/teacher ratio of 20 students per teacher is almost a quarter higher than the national average and is the third highest in the country. 38
Arizona spends $187 million annually to educate illegal immigrant students in grades K-12.39
Illegal Immigration in Arizona
283,000 illegal aliens resided in Arizona as of 2000, according to INS figures. This is the sixth largest number of illegal immigrants in the country and is 146 percent higher than the previous INS estimate in 1996 and 222 percent higher than the estimate for 1990.40
The Arizona border with Mexico is a popular point for illegal crossings; the Tucson area has had the most illegal alien arrests in the nation in recent years. In 2001, the Border Patrol arrested about 450,000 people for crossing the border illegally.41
In some areas, such as Douglas, residents are so fearful of alien smugglers that they say they avoid going out alone at night.42 In Cochise County, which shares 84 miles of border with Mexico, problems associated with illegal immigration cost residents 37 cents of every tax dollar they pay, according to the county�s sheriff.43 About ten percent of the county�s health department budget goes toward treatment of illegal aliens.44
Arizona authorities requested compensation of $41 million from the federal government in FY�99 for the incarceration of illegal aliens in state and local jails and prisons (under the federal State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, or SCAAP), but it received only $16 in compensation, leaving $25 million in uncompensated costs to be borne by Arizona taxpayers. (This is the latest year for which full data is available, but federal SCAAP payments ave been shrinking overall.)