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Striking changes in Arizona as illegal immigrants flee the state

 Arizona is leading the nation in local enforcement of laws against illegal immigration. As illegal immigrants leave the state, the state's most serious problems such as traffic congestion and the expense of teaching English Language Learner classes are dissipating. 

Since Arizona's local law enforcement began enforcing illegal immigration laws and an employer sanctions law went into effect, illegal immigrants have been fleeing the state in large numbers. The effects have been far-ranging. Commuters are reporting fewer vehicles on the freeways, shortening their rush-hour commutes. What had become a serious transportation problem in Arizona is losing its urgency. English Learner Language (ELL) students started dropping out of school. This helped end a confrontation between the state legislature and a liberal federal judge who had ordered the state to spend more money on ELL classes.

Fewer illegal immigrants are using hospital emergency rooms, so waiting times have decreased. Although the rest of the country is in an economic slump, unemployment is going down in Arizona, from 4.5% in January to 4.1% in March. Day laborers loitering outside of Home Depot and other stores have mostly disappeared, ending months of confrontation between illegal immigrant sympathizers and protesters. Desert lands near the border are returning to their pristine condition and the wildlife is coming back. Identity theft and car thefts are decreasing. No one showed up on May 1 to march in immigrant rallies.

With illegal immigrants leaving, the state will see huge savings as fewer illegal immigrants use social welfare programs and the cost of arresting, prosecuting, incarcerating and deporting them decreases. Arizona is facing one of the worst budget deficits ever, looming as high as $2 billion in 2009, but the situation may resolve itself.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas are leading the local law enforcement efforts in Arizona against illegal immigration. Arizona is also home to State Representative Russell Pearce, who is responsible for spearheading possibly more laws against illegal immigration than any other state representative in the country. It is also home to Chris Simcox, President of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. Other counties around the state are beginning to follow the lead of Maricopa County, signing agreements with I.C.E. to permit their law enforcement agencies to arrest illegal immigrants. Cochise County Attorney Ed Rheinheimer intends to prosecute illegal immigrants for trespassing on public lands. Mesa mayor Keno Hawker recently wrote an op-ed in the East Valley Tribune praising Sheriff Joe Arpaio's sweeps of illegal immigrants. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik bypassed the Pima County Supervisors when they refused to authorize him to add two Border Patrol agents to his border crime unit, and added them anyways.

Although Arizona's Democrat Governor Janet Napolitano has vetoed most illegal immigration bills since 2002 when she entered office, Arizonans have bypassed her by sending initiatives directly to the ballot. In 2004, voters passed four illegal immigration measures with over 70% yes margins. A law targeting drophouses was signed into law earlier this month. An even stricter employer sanctions measure is currently underway to be on the ballot this fall.

Arizona's illegal immigrants are fleeing to sanctuary cities like San Francisco and states with less enforcement and laws prohibiting illegal immigration like Nebraska, Iowa, and Maryland. Since one out of every 10 illegal immigrant is a felon, the result is felons are disproportionately moving to these places.

Granted there are benefits that immigrants bring to our country. But those benefits are outweighed by the negatives when the immigrants cross illegally. There are too many rules, laws, traditions, and practices in society that conflict with illegal immigrants trying to make a living. Arizona's experiment may end up resolving the illegal immigration problem satisfactorily for all, because once the fiscal expense of illegal immigrants is brought down, revising the laws to permit more immigrants to enter the country legally will become more attractive and realistic.

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7 comments to Striking changes in Arizona as illegal immigrants flee the state

  • bucky

    But wait.....wasn't the Employer Sanctions Bill supposed to destroy our state economy? Salvadore Reza, Elias Bermudas, E.J. Montini and others warned us that the state economy would be devastated if we kept up pressure on illegals - um I mean "undocumented immigrants".

    Now if only Janet Napolitano, Phil Gordon and Terry Goddard would admit the truth....

  • Patrick Mulligan

    It's amazing how effective laws can be when they are actually enforced. What a novel concept. Other states should begin feasibility studies to see if enforcing the laws in their states might have a similar effect. This could be revolutionary!

  • Pat Skurka

    Excellent article, factual and neither overly optimistic or overly pessimistic. But, it’s just one battle in the war and too early to even hint at a final victory – and, in that regard, this author handled the balance and context very well.

    Eventually, these types of limited successes leak out into the general population and Liberal Axis members will strike back using their standard propaganda tactics. First, the problem for illegal immigration supporters is to prevent the spread of enforcement success to other locales. Without enforcement at the national level, the tendency among illegals will be to up anchor and move to some other locale with less active enforcement. California is full up at the moment, but that leaves other states which can absorb many more illegals. As long as there isn’t widespread national enforcement and certainly during a presidential election year when illegal immigration is a “touchy” subject, the liberals may choose to ignore the enforcement success – for now.

    But, if Texas and California make noises about emulating Arizona’s success, that could change rapidly. Recently, there has been some enforcement effort in California. The restaurant chain “El Balazo” had 11 locations in the Bay Area closed recently due to its practice of using mostly illegal workers. The price of tough as leather steak burritos, fish tacos and cold Tecate will be going up soon, but we’ll survive somehow. However, enforcement on Arizona’s scale just isn’t happening here – so the liberals can breathe a sigh of relief.

    Elected and unelected government employees can also be mobilized to stop or hinder enforcement efforts. Ballot initiatives opposing illegal immigration are unreliable – California voters have passed several such initiatives on various hot button issues only to see them overturned by the courts. The recent “gay marriage” issue is one such example. And what can voters really do about seeing their desires ignored or overturned – the answer is absolutely nothing with present leadership. There are many tactics voters can use to express displeasure, but the current emotional index is such that illegal immigration opposition leaders haven’t invoked them.

    Economic boycotts are the best tactic available to express displeasure since even liberals like to eat and need money to make the lease payment on the Mercedes – but such boycotts require time and organization to be successful. McCain can be counted on to ignore the problem entirely leaving conservatives without a national spokesperson and the only alternative being a grass roots effort.

    Lastly, conservatives still have a divided philosophy when it comes to immigration, illegal or otherwise. Even this author felt obliged to utter the standard caveat that immigrants bring benefits – amen to that concept, but unnecessary, in this context, to establish a “compassionate conservative” façade. Facts help, of course. And, conservatives have a peculiar penchant for facts and logic over emotion. For example, most Americans don’t realize the unemployment rate in Mexico is no worse than in the United States and much lower than in Michigan - or that the overwhelming majority of illegals had a job in Mexico before deciding to come here – they weren’t homeless or starving on the streets.

    Also, illegals don’t ask permission and Americans get no choice in deciding which immigrants bring which needed benefits. When brain surgeons, aeronautical engineers, investment bankers or petroleum scientists are crossing the desert each night from Mexico, that objection could certainly change – but how likely are we to see that happening? Also, how do Asians swim the Pacific to enter America illegally – so where is that fabled cultural diversity immigrants supposedly bring to the table?

    And, conservatives desperately need consensus on immigration “philosophy”. Going back to the El Balazo raid in the San Francisco area, the liberals pulled out all the “poor illegal” cards and slapped them loudly on the airwaves. Complaints by the liberal media (sorry for the redundancy) were that the Mexican consulate wasn’t immediately notified about the raid, although many of the illegals were from Guatemala. The raids occurred one day after the annually scheduled “Illegal Immigrant” sympathy day – coincidence or government plot? The ubiquitous innocent illegal woman was paraded around – “she’s been in the country 11 years and only wants to work” spiel was aired. Facts, for those who care, is that 11 locations were raided and 63 illegals detained – quite a haul for a supposedly law abiding business. The detainees were immediately turned loose on their own recognizance while their status is being “processed”. No word on whether the business owners were also turned loose on ROR.

    All that gooey liberal anguish over people who are essentially no worse off today. They’re still here and still illegal and not leaving any time soon, if ever. But, this author deserves thanks for a factual info-essay and we can only hope more conservatives will grow a backbone and display some of that gooey, self-righteous anguish of their own.

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  • [...] Striking changes in Arizona as illegals flee the state Arizona is leading the nation in local enforcement of laws against illegal immigration. As illegal [aliens] leave the state, the state's most serious problems such as traffic congestion and the expense of teaching English Language Learner classes are dissipating. HERE [...]

  • [...] and illegal immigration Intellectual Conservative Politics and Philosophy the state's most serious problems such as traffic congestion and the expense of teaching English [...]

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