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…Quit Blaming Illegal Immigrants for the Budget Deficit!
Over the past several months Republican legislators, conservative talk shows and organizations have carried out a media blitz to blame the looming $8 billion dollar California budget deficit on the estimated 3 million 'illegal immigrants' in the state. A new poll by the non partisan Public Policy Institute of California says that voters are not buying it.
Jobs and the economy have replaced education and immigration as major concerns. And besides not scapegoating 'illegal' or undocumented immigrants, more than two-thirds of California adults want them to stay:
"Nearly two-thirds of California adults believe immigrants illegally in the country should be allowed to apply for work permits and stay. Another 72 percent, including 52 percent of Republicans, say illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the country for at least two years should be given a chance to keep their jobs and stay in the United States."
So who are Californians blaming?
Well, about 75 percent of those polled responded that they could only trust the 'leaders' of the state and capitol some or none of the time. And correctly so.
The truth of the matter is that Governor Schwarzenegger and legislature have created this budget shortfall. Even the Governor agrees that 'illegal immigration' is not to blame:
"I can guarantee you, I have been now four years in office in Sacramento, I don't think that illegal immigration has created the mess that we are in."
K-14 spending on 'illegal immigrants' has not caused the budget deficit. Between 1980 and 2008, California has gone from ranking no. 1 on per-pupil spending to ranking below 47. No, DO NOT blame illegal immigrants for this. It is indisputably linked to the passage of Prop 13 in 1978, as school officials in many districts struggled with budget cuts thanks to the cap on property taxes that created structural revenue shortfalls of $12 billion annually, approved by LEGAL California voters.
Jailing criminal 'aliens' is not causing a budget deficit –
The federal government is supposed to reimburse states for incarcerating 'criminal aliens' so the cost is not on California taxpayers. Even without reimbursement, whatever the unnecessary cost of incarcerating migrants that commit crimes (generously estimated at $1.4 billion), it is far outweighed by the fact that California spends $140,000 on every single inmate, over half of whom are non-violent offenders, terminally ill or mentally incapacitated. California is number 1 in prison spending and that is money spent neither in investment nor making prisoners into contributing members of society. By the same token, spending money on educating 'illegal immigrants' is a long-term investment and ensures less money spent on incarcerating the underclass and workers in the underground economy.
So what has caused this budget deficit?
Schwarzenegger swooped into office with promises to terminate the Davis-restored vehicle license fees that voters were angry about, and ended up terminating much-needed state revenue. “Of the state's $14.5-billion shortfall over this year and next, about $12 billion represents the two-year cost of the vehicle license fee that Schwarzenegger eliminated in late 2003. Another $3 billion is the cost this year of repaying some of the budgetary debt — interest and principal — used to cover up previous deficits," says Mark Paul, senior scholar at the New America Foundation writing for the LA Times.
Tell Schwarneggar and the California legislature to take responsibility for their actions. Don’t scapegoat immigrants–legal or illegal–without facts.