Immigration Crackdown for Balanced Budget

March 25, 2008 9:19:55 PM PDT
State Republican lawmakers unveiled a package of bills today, aimed at saving money and balancing the state budget by targeting illegal immigrants.

Assembly Republicans want to chip away at the state deficit by checking the immigration status of those getting state-funded social benefits and jobs. They especially want to crackdown on those who have committed crimes.

"California is on a financial life raft that is sinking, but at the same time, we continue to pull on more and more people on board," said Assemblyman Jim Silva (R) of Huntington Beach.

Many of the proposals concentrate on criminal activity because in 2006 - 2007, it cost the state roughly $850,000,000 million dollars to incarcerate more than 17,000 illegal immigrants.

Among the proposals:

  • Adding ten years to prison sentences for felonies if the illegal had been previously deported.
  • Checking the immigration status of DUI offenders
  • Requiring local law enforcement to cooperate with INS
  • Denying bail for gang-related or violent crimes
  • And reporting dangerous juveniles to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.

    The Vice-Chairman of the Latino Caucus is shaking his head in opposition.

    "To the extent we have criminal activity in our state, we should address it very, very vigorously. But let's be focused on criminal activity, not on the status of an individual because that moves us toward patent, blatant discrimination," said state Senior Gil Cedillo (D) of Los Angeles.

    Even if Republicans somehow got some of the proposals passed in the Democratic-led legislature, local leaders may be reluctant to add immigration duties to their police force.

    "I think the law enforcement agencies in my city should be focused on crime and violence, which is starting to creep up," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

    Assemblyman John Benoit(R) of Bermuda Dunes is a law enforcement veteran-turned politician, who says it's time cops are part of the solution.

    "I have been involved in stopping, finding, and in some cases, deporting people here illegally. I think the rule of law is the reason the United States stands out among nations," said Assemblyman Benoit.

    The federal government is supposed to help pay for jailing illegal immigrants who commit crimes, but California got reimbursed only $100,000,000 million dollars last year, less than 13 percent of the actual costs.


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