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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