"Our citizens have lived with this dark cloud for too long .. It's time for the federal government to do its job and secure the border," said Governor Jan Brewer, announcing the lawsuit outside the federal courthouse in Phoenix.
The lawsuit notably charges that the US federal government has failed to reimburse Arizona for more than $760 million in costs for incarcerating illegal immigrants.
"While control of the border is a federal responsibility, illegal aliens who successfully cross the border and commit crime in Arizona become an Arizona responsibility," said Attorney General Tom Horne.
Meanwhile in the GOP Controlled House the latest Budget proposals include cuts to border security of up to $600 Million because - get this - spending on these items has increased by "double digits" in recent years.
So which is it, we're spending too little to secure the border - or too much? And if we have all these illegals who haven't been caught running around committing all this crime, why's it cost so much to keep them in jail?
More from Brewer...
Brewer said the boundary between Arizona and Mexico remains a dangerous place despite stepped-up enforcement along the nearly three thousand mile border by federal authorities.
She also cited the recent death of a US Border Patrol officer as evidence of illegal incursions across the border by criminal drug cartels. "Our border and immigration system are still broken," she said.
The lawsuit also seeks compensation from the federal government for the cost to the state of securing the border.
Brewer claimed fighting illegal immigration had cost the state more than a billion dollars, funds the state simply does not have while facing a serious budget crisis.
Yet while Brewer is constantly claiming nothing is being done on the border to improve security, the numbers and the facts contradict that claim.
There were 11.1 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally in March 2009, down from a peak of 12 million two years earlier, the Pew Hispanic Center said in a report issued Wednesday. From 2007 to 2009, the number of illegals entering the country shrank to about 300,000 per year, down by nearly two-thirds from the estimated 850,000 per year from March 2000 to March 2005.
"The decrease represents the first significant reversal in the growth of this population over the past two decades," the report said.
The biggest drop -- 22 percent from 2007 to 2009 -- was in the number of unauthorized immigrants from Latin American countries other than Mexico, it said. And the decline was most apparent along the United States' Southeast coast -- Florida, Virginia, Delaware and Georgia -- as well as in Western mountain states like Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.
The Pew Hispanic Poll doesn't attempt to discern the cause for this downturn, simply to document it - it could be many factors from the slow economy to chilling effect of SB1070 - or it could be increased enforcement and expedited deportations by the Obama Administration. Of course all of that costs something.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday signed a bill directing $600 million more to securing the U.S.-Mexico border, a modest election-year victory that underscores his failure so far to deliver an overhaul of immigration law.
The new law will pay for the hiring of 1,000 more Border Patrol agents to be deployed at critical areas, as well as more Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. It provides for new communications equipment and greater use of unmanned surveillance drones. The Justice Department gets more money to help catch drug dealers and human traffickers.
Hm.. $600 Million, where have I heard that figure before?
But this wasn't Obama first attempt at improving Border Security - far from it.
The current era is one of contradicting messages and promises from the federal government. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says it prioritizes the removal of immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes (even green card holders can get a deportation order if they have been convicted of an aggravated felony) but the majority of deportees have committed no crime outside of crossing the border illegally or overstaying their visa. And new data shows that the vast majority of those who were convicted of crimes were guilty of minor offenses, including traffic violations. Only 1 in 6 have committed serious crimes.
These are the latest numbers, courtesy of Deportation Nation and TRAC:
Io CE has deported 279,035 immigrants in 2010 compared to 254,763 at this same point last year.
o The number of non-citizens deported in the first nine months of FY 2010 is up 10 percent from 2008, the last comparable year under the Bush administration.
o The pace of deportation for immigrants convicted of crimes is an an all time high: 60 percent more than the last year of the Bush administration, and 37 percent above Obama’s first year in office.
o Still, more than half of those deported so far in FY 2010 – 51 percent – had no criminal record.
So how did the Obama Administration Accomplish all this even before he signed his resent $600 Million Bill which the House GOP is threatening to repeal? One Word: Stimulus.
A month before signing Arizona’s notorious papers-please anti-immigrant law, Gov. Jan Brewer burnished her border-security credentials by dipping into the state’s ARRA funds to ply border law enforcement agencies -- already awash in Homeland Security funding through DHS’s Operation Stonegarden -- with another $10 million.
“A government’s principle [sic] responsibility to its citizens is to provide safety and security. However, the federal government has failed miserably in its obligation and moral responsibility to its citizens regarding border security,” declared Governor Brewer on April 22 when announcing state’s the launch of the state’s Border Security Enhancement Program.
Brewer took a page out of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s playbook by asserting that the federal government’s failure to protect Arizona against illegal immigrants, border crime, and drugs obligated the state to secure the Arizona border with Mexico – all the while downplaying that the state’s border security program is underwritten by stimulus funds intended for the state’s fiscal stabilization. Like Perry, Brewer planned to ride the anti-immigrant backlash and border-security bandwagon to victory in November 2010 gubernatorial contest.
Brewer has been using Stimulus funds to pay for exactly what she claims she needs the Federal Government to pay for. I also find her figure of $760 Million for Arizonas incarceration costs alone highly dubious particularly when she's already made it clear she would spend this funds primarily on private prisons.
According to campaign finance records, CCA executives and employees contributed more than $1,000 to the governor’s re-election campaign. The company’s political action committee and its lobbyists contributed another $60,000 to Brewer’s top legislative priority, Proposition 100, a sales tax to help avoid budget cuts to education.
Caroline Isaacs from the American Friends Service Committee, which advocates for social justice issues, said the money is evidence of influence the company has on the governor.
Isaacs said private prison companies have been buying influence in Arizona politics for years. The number of private prisons and jails operating across the state shows the result of that influence, he said.
Currently, there are at least 12 for-profit prison, jail and detention facilities in Arizona.
Isaacs said the state has something else that attracts these companies.
“The other Holy Grail, if you will, of private prison construction is immigrant detention,” Isaacs said.
Corrections Corporation of America holds the contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to lock up illegal immigrants picked up in Arizona. Tough immigration laws such as Arizona's SB 1070 could send thousands of new bodies its way, and millions of dollars.
So with SB1070 currently tied up in the courts, Brewer is essentially counter sueing to make sure her campaign cronies get their cut of cash - and the GOP Congress by undermining Obama's legitimate and successful efforts to control the border only manage to make her - currently bogus - argument seem actually legitimate by undoing all the progress and improvements that have been made over the past 2-3 years.
They want to reverse improvements that have been made on the border, reverse the now multi-decades long reduction in crime that began with the Clinton COPS program, reverse progress on disease control just a couple years after a deadly outbreak of Bird Flu and reverse our progress on pollution just a year after the largest Gulf Oil Spill in history.
But then that's the GOP for ya, always looking backwards.
And in the end, none of these cuts will even make a serious dent in the deficit which remains at more than $1.2 Trillion - that's with a "T". - largely as a result of the economic downturn, not any massive increase in specific spending. As a matter of fact overall government spending was already on track to go down in FY2012, before the TeaPublicans even showed up.