Immigrant tide strapping border states

Immigrant tide strapping border states

By Joe Baker, Senior Editor

While unrestrained immigration policies continue, a river of humanity is flowing across the nation’s southern borders and hints of border clashes are growing stronger.

The unstemmed tide of immigrants is putting incredible stress on the budgets of border states such as California and Arizona.

Arizona is turning to the federal government for increased aid. Senators and Congressmen from the desert state said unpaid emergency medical services to illegal immigrants are costing their state $100 million annually. In California, the bill is even larger.

Arizona’s senators and representatives said the federal government must provide more financial aid to help the state meet its costs. Immigration is a federal responsibility, but the federal government provides no monetary aid.

Republican Sen. John Kyl declared: “Arizona spends more than $100 million every year on providing emergency health care to illegal immigrants, and yet it receives nothing from the federal government in complying with this federal law.

“That hostile attitude must change, or Arizona will continue to suffer as emergency rooms shut down, cut services, or impose long waits for services.”

The legislators said they will support a bill to provide $200 million a year for five years to help cover such costs in states affected by the problem. Kyl said he will introduce the measure as an amendment to the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 when Congress reconvenes in January.

Sen. John McCain said the fiscal health of border communities should be viewed as part of homeland security and that he would back the legislation.

To date, President Bush has not supported such aid for border states. “I think the administration needs to step up to the plate,” Kyl said.

Meanwhile, occasional skirmishes with border crossers have prompted ranchers and others along the border to form a vigilante-style militia in an effort to protect their property and livestock.

In Los Angeles last August, thousands of cars drove through the city bearing signs reading “F— you! This is still Mexico.”

In the Compromise of 1850, under President Millard Filmore’s administration, the southwestern states, including California, were ceded to the United States as a conclusion of the Spanish American War. Many Mexicans feel that this settlement was unjust and that the territory was stolen from them.

Mexican President Vicente Fox has made various overtures to the Bush administration concerning the relaxation of transportation and immigration standards, but 9/11 concerns have diminished the initial favorable consideration of Fox’s proposals.

Pressures over jobs lost to illegal immigrants and the rapidly rising costs of social services are climbing and generating increasing tensions between Anglo and Hispanic residents.

Kyl, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information, said he intends to have hearings to find out why the government has not implemented a stricter border security law that he authored.

Kyl said U.S. ports of entry haven’t been given the technology needed for border agents to detect fraudulent identification used by illegal border crossers. He said there is concern about potential terrorists trying to get valid U.S. visas.

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