Last summer when Colorado passed one of the toughest anti-immigration laws in the country, Governor Bill Owens claimed it would save the state millions of dollars and remove more than fifty thousand people from the welfare rolls.
Creating tougher guidelines for those applying to receive all but emergency services, the law was intended to prevent those in the country illegally, even those with fake documents, from receiving public benefits.
According to NPR, after numerous reports of citizens and legal residents having difficulty receiving public benefits, Colorado lawmakers asked all state agencies a few weeks ago to tally up the costs and savings of the new law.
In all, the state has spent over two million dollars to implement it. And the savings from kicking migrants here illegally off the welfare rolls? Nada.
The panel's report that undocumented immigrants really didn't use state services, and that the new laws are costing more to implement than they're saving, came as no surprise to State Senator Dave Schultheis, yet he said it didn't matter since the law was never about saving money
Maybe there's not thirty thousand illegal aliens that are utilizing this system. That's not the issue. The issue is if there are ten, that's too many; and if there are five, that's too many. No one that is here in this country illegally should be using hard earned taxpayer dollars. It's not right.
I wonder if the people of Colorado knew that rather than saving all that money they were told that immigrants were in effect "stealing" from them, they would instead have to spend $2mil to try to make life miserable for them as a matter of "principle", they would have backed the idea in the first place.
Despite overwhelming evidence that shows that undocumented migrants don't come here to collect free social benefits, but rather come to work, anti-immigration hawks consistently try to sell the public on programs like those implemented in Colorado.
Even Schultheis admitted that he wouldn't be surprised if the costs of the program would remain high and the benefits low.
He agrees with the dominant theory among immigration researchers that people don't risk their lives crossing the border to tap into our welfare system. They come here to work. Researchers say migration within the U.S. backs up this contention too. Instead of moving to states with relatively generous welfare programs like California, immigrants are choosing states in the Rockies, the Midwest, and the Southeast where there are plenty of jobs. And for the few who do want benefits, a 1996 welfare reform law made that illegal.
At the end of the day, the kinds of laws passed in Colorado have far more to do with stirring up ant-immigration sentiments than saving any government money. It's no small wonder that the state that brought us Tom Tancredo is willing to spend $2mil dollars of its taxpayer's money just to make an anti-immigration statement.
to hear the complete NPR report: click here
tags: immigration, CO , immigration laws, welfare