My Democrat colleagues on the Assembly Judiciary Committee recently killed ACA 20, the constitutional amendment designed to create the California Border Police, a state agency whose sole purpose, if we can ever get it formed, would be the comprehensive, uniform, and statewide enforcement of federal immigration law. The full text of ACA 20, in its current form, is available here if you would like to see exactly what the bill would do. Within two weeks of the death of the bill, the Attorney General also released his title and summary of an initiative with the same language as ACA 20. That initiative is now out for signature gathering, so the people may have the opportunity to enact the terms of ACA 20 over the objection of the liberal majority of the California Legislature. Only time will tell on that account.
However, I was intrigued by the arguments used by the opposition to the idea of the California Border Police. These arguments generally fall into three general categories: (1) The California Border Police would cost California taxpayers too much money; (2) Patrolling the border is a federal job, and only the federal government should do it; and (3) Illegal aliens do jobs that Americans won’t do, so stopping the flow of illegals would destroy our economy. Those arguments persuaded the Democrats on the committee to vote against my bill. I’d like to address those arguments.
First—the Border Police will cost too much money. I wish that my Democrat colleagues worried this much about the cost of illegal immigration back in 1999 when they gave illegals free medical care in California. California taxpayers now spend about $4 billion a year on the cost of free medical care for illegal aliens.
More important, the total cost of illegal immigration to California taxpayers is approximately $10 billion a year, when education, welfare, health care, and prison costs are combined. The California Border Police will cost between $200 and 300 million a year, but will reduce our social service costs by between $3 to 4 billion a year. That is a bargain. In addition, that $300 million is only 3% of the $9 billion increase in the 05-06 budget over the 04-05 budget, 3/10ths of 1% of total state spending. We really can’t afford not to do it.
Second—enforcing immigration law is a federal responsibility. The federal government isn’t doing its job. Federal law grants the states the authority to enforce the law, and since the California taxpayer pays a disproportionate share of the cost of illegal immigration, California should do everything in its power to reduce those costs.
Finally—illegals may do jobs Americans won’t do, but they live a life of fear, abuse and exploitation. It is not right that human smugglers endanger their lives, and that American employers exploit their labor with substandard wages or working conditions. It is not right that criminals target illegals, who cannot report a crime for fear of deportation. It is not right that illegals pay into a social security system in which they will never participate, or get injured on the job without compensation, all for fear of deportation. They should come to this country legally, and enjoy the safety and protection of our laws. Those who justify the current condition, including many of my liberal colleagues, are actually advocating that illegals continue to live in these subhuman conditions indefinitely.
Enforcing the law is right for everyone. It is right for Californians, it is right for the federal government, and just as important, it is right for the long term good of the illegal. That is why we need the California Border Police, and why I am supporting the initiative. If we just do the right thing first, everything else will fall into place.
[This article first appeared at CaliforniaRepublic.org.]