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Morning Bell: How State and Local Governments Can Help Control Illegal Immigration
Posted By Conn Carroll On August 27, 2009 @ 9:12 am In Ongoing Priorities | Comments Disabled
Meeting with his counterparts from Mexico and Canada earlier this month, President Barack Obama said that he expected the Democratic-controlled Congress, after completing work on health care, energy and financial regulation, to draft comprehensive immigration reform bills this year . This time frame acknowledges that no immigration legislation will be passed until at least 2010 . But as Heritage visiting fellow Matt Meyer points out in a new report  there is still plenty that states can do, in the meantime, under their own constitutionally-protected traditional police powers to tackle the problem right now.
Illegal immigration is a relatively new public policy problem. In 1980, there were only 3.5 million illegal aliens in the United States, which represented 1.5% of the total U.S. population. That year, 1.5 million illegal aliens lived in California — 6.6% of its population—making the Golden State the only state in the union whose illegal aliens comprised more than 3% of its population. It was only after the 1986 immigration reform bill, which provided amnesty to more than three million illegal aliens, that an ever increasing surge of people began entering the U.S. illegally. There are now an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States representing almost 4% of our population and 18 states have joined California with illegal populations exceeding 3%.
In response to this influx of illegal aliens — which places increasingly greater burdens on state and local budgets, law enforcement, and public infrastructure like hospitals and schools – states began exercising their constitutional powers by engaging in a flurry of activity to curtail illegal immigration. The primary areas of action were: (1) driver’s licenses and identification, (2) public benefits, (3) access to higher education benefits, (4) voting, (5) criminal sanctions, and (6) employment. But states can, and should, do more. Mayer identifies a host of state and local government policy fixes including:
Turning to what the federal government should do, Mayer concludes:
Congress should help [localities], not by passing an amnesty reform package, but by amending the statutory (not constitutional) provisions that limit the actions they can take and by increasing the legal means for foreigners to come to the United States to work. The only way to end or significantly slow illegal immigration in America is to create a mosaic of laws across the country that increase the cost of illegal immigration to a point that the supply dwindles to a trickle as the demand is filled by legal workers.
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URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2009/08/27/morning-bell-how-state-and-local-governments-can-help-control-illegal-immigration/
URLs in this post:
 to draft comprehensive immigration reform bills this year: http://www.mercurynews.com/nationworld/ci_13033391
 a new report: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Immigration/sr0066.cfm
 Rasmussen Reports: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/america_s_best_days
 2.3 million fewer people will be employed on average next year: http://keithhennessey.com/2009/08/26/new-projection/
 TurboTax defense: http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2009/08/tax-court-rejects.html
 reminded Americans: http://blog.american.com/?p=4328
 Jeremy Anwyl: http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2009-08-26-cash-for-clunkers-stats_N.htm
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