Dear Ms. Brewer:
I applaud you for taking a stand on a very thorny issue in our state. I applaud you for standing up for what 70% of our citizens support, based on the most recent polling data. I think it is sad that misguided people, mainly living outside our borders, think it is racist; I do not and completely support the motivations for this law.
This law is a reaction, quite possibly the only reaction, to the federal government consistently and, one might even suspect, deliberately, underfunding our borders. This leaves our state vulnerable to those who cross illegally, and whose intent in crossing is to access services, paid for with tax dollars both state and federal, that our citizens pay and which our citizens expect will go toward assisting the most vulnerable of our own. This does not include those who cross our border in defiance of both state and federal law.
I heard that President Calderon of Mexico will be devoting massive resources to fighting this law because he thinks it is racist; he also thinks that illegal immigration is a social and economic issue rather than a legal issue. I would say to him, and to you, that is rank hypocrisy. If he were to devote his resources to fighting the causes of illegal migration across his border into our country (and our state) perhaps the reason for illegal immigration would be erased. If he were to ensure his citizens were able to access emergency health care in their own communities without regard to ability to pay — as we do here in Arizona (and the United States) instead of being required to pay in advance, perhaps his citizens would not be so quick to depart his country. If he were to ensure his citizens had access to welfare, and food subsidies as we do here, his citizens would not be so quick to leave. I know as a citizen of the United States, I am required to carry proper identification which also is proof of citizenship in my country of origin while in his country. I also know that I must pay in advance for any health care services. I also know that, if I violate any laws and don’t have large amounts of cash with which to pay my fees, I will end up in a jail that does NOT meet the standards of United States jails, including Joe Arpaio’s ‘tent city.’
Our state has lost an entire hospital, Phoenix Memorial Hospital, as well as a trauma center, Tucson Medical Center, due to the loss of money inherent in paying for the financial costs associated with illegal immigrants. I know that the Copper Queen Hospital in Bisbee also had funding problems with illegals crossing the border that was covered for many years, until the closing of the mine, by the Phelps Dodge Corporation. The hospital I work at serves a large Hispanic population and also faces massive short falls each month due to the costs of providing care for illegal immigrants. As with University Medical Center in Las Vegas, our state hospitals face millions of dollars of shortfalls each month as the costs of providing care for those not here in our country legally outstrips both the ability to provide quality care and the ability of the state and federal agencies to provide funding for them.
Meanwhile, our own citizens are held hostage to a state initiative to raise state sales taxes by one cent, in order to cover nearly 500 thousand legal citizens presently unable to pay for the costs associated with their health and mental health care. This includes nearly 50 thousand children who are surely the most vulnerable of an already vulnerable population. These unfortunate individuals will be the casualties of the inability of the state’s budget to cover the costs associated with their state-funded health insurance, due t0 the I believe in part to the state’s legal requirement that they cover the costs associated with illegal immigrants.
I find nothing offensive about a law that gives law enforcement officials the ability to detain those that can’t produce proper state issued ID — which means that they have produced proof of citizenship, or proof of their ability to be in our country legally — provided this is enforced uniformly. I personally know of a Canadian who was unable to get her green card renewed, and therefore was here illegally for about four months before her boyfriend (a native of Arizona and a US citizen) offered to marry her so she wouldn’t have to leave. I also personally know immigrants who have come here from Russia who are here based on refugee status, immigrants from Palestine who came for the chance at a better life unencumbered by the daily threat of loss of life, immigrants from Sudan via England after going to medical school, and immigrants who have come from Mexico, legally, who are very against what the new generation of immigrants expects. All of these people can expect to have their documents verified, as I would also expect, if I were involved in an incident where law enforcement was called. All of these people can provide proof of either citizenship or legal residency. They come from a variety of backgrounds, but all are grateful to be here; all work and pay taxes thankful for the ability to work in the trade or profession they choose; all are givers to the system and not takers.
I do recognize the possibility for abuse and because of this I strongly suggest that officers go through a training program that stresses appropriate, across the board enforcement rather than targeting their efforts toward those they think might be here illegally.
I know this was a hard bill to support from a political position but I want to thank you for standing firm on a position that affects all of us.
The President of the Tin Foil Hat Society.
*Link to the Arizona Dept of Motor Vehicles where you can read the legal requirements for possessing a drivers license
*Although since, Tucson Medical Center closed their doors as a trauma center and the Copper Queen and Phoenix Memorial hospitals have closed their doors, there have been two laws passed in Arizona that limit access to social services to those who are here legally: Arizona HB 2448/SB 2738 and Arizona SB 1137. The laws were too little, too late.
*Costs of providing care to illegals put together by the Coalition of Border Counties This is from 2002, but add about 30% to the numbers and you’ll probably be in the ballpark.
*Costs of law enforcement and criminal justice services related to illegal immigrants Again old, but more relevant than ever. Especially since Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the world thanks to drug lords and gangs from Mexico. Which, by the way, President Calderon does nothing of substance about.
*Isaac Reyes\’ testimony to the House Judiciary Committee June 4, 2008 regarding the medical costs of illegal immigration\
*Editorial on the new law by someone nowhere near Arizona.