Illegal immigration comes with a high price, and Arizona taxpayers are tired of paying it.
For many years, the federal government failed to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. Our elected officials in Washington downplayed the threat posed by illegal immigration until the problem became too big to sweep under the rug.
According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, taxpayers shell out around $132 billion per year, across all levels of government, to pay for a long list of social programs and government services that are currently available people living in the country illegally.
Despite this astronomical figure, some politicians believe taxpayers should be forced to shell out even more money for people living in the country illegally than we do already. They argue, for instance, that it’s the government’s responsibility to provide free health care and education for people residing in this country illegally. In a perfect world where everything was free, those impulses would probably be commendable — after all, they come from a place of good intentions. In reality, though, there is no such thing as a free lunch, much less a free doctor visit or a free textbook. In the end, taxpayers always have to foot the bill for government expenditures — and that bill is ballooning out of control.
According to FAIR, people living here illegally are “at least three times more likely to be incarcerated than citizens and legal immigrants.”
Every single year, people living here illegally commit thousands of violent crimes across America — crimes that would not take place if our country was protected by a secure border and well-crafted immigration system. As a result, governments have to invest our tax dollars in law enforcement to protect communities that have been infiltrated by international criminal organizations. Likewise, states must pay for the incarceration of criminals who are living her illegally, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars per year for each inmate. According to a 2017 report, Arizona sheriff’s departments spent $335 million between 2009 and 2016 incarcerating people who are residing her illegally and convicted of breaking state and local laws.
Despite all of these challenges, however, our country is currently on the right track to fix our immigration system and secure the border.
For the past four years, the Trump administration has made it a priority to reduce illegal immigration, erect new and improved barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, and deport criminals who are living here illegally in an effort to protect border states such as Arizona.
During a recent campaign rally, President Trump revealed that under his watch, the federal government has deported about 20,000 gang members, including many belonging to the bloodthirsty MS-13 gang.
“We’ve now deported over a half a million criminal illegal aliens,” the President said, highlighting the fact the White House has made it harder for criminals to enter and remain in our country illegally.
This summer, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement began a nationwide operation to hunt down people who are living here without legal permission who have been charged and convicted of crimes involving victims, such as domestic violence and assault. In September, the agency announced the arrests of dozens of criminals who had been residing in Arizona illegally.
Turning a blind eye to illegal immigration doesn’t come cheap, and Arizona taxpayers have been forced to subsidize our broken immigration system for far too long. For the sake of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, we must remain committed to securing the border and not allow our recent successes to lull us into a false sense of complacency.
Art Del Cueto is Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council.