Illegal immigration is a financial burden to the great people of Arizona. Border security needs a multiple pronged approach. As your state representative, I will not insult the federal government with outlandish and uneducated statements. I will work with them to ensure our border security concerns are met.
Not only do we need Congress to fund a border fence system, we need the border patrol in our communities to respond to our needs. With the sharp words directed towards the Border Patrol by current state officials, it is obvious why they would be hesitant to respond. We must work with the federal agencies and not against them. Unfortunately for the people of Arizona, the current regime of Southern Arizona State Lawmakers decided to work against federal agencies and criticize their work.
As our nation draws down in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military will drawdown too. I would also propose a "Troops to Agents" program similar to the "Troops to Teachers" program. This would allow trained military members an opportunity to transfer their federal service to the Border Patrol. These brave men and women have been engaged in international border security for many years. These Veterans would be perfectly suited for border security along our borders. As the military cuts its overall size, those numbers should be picked up by the Border Patrol and money budgeted for those troops transferred to the Border Patrol.
There has been much discussion over the years on immigration enforcement along our border with Mexico. The costs of enforcement are astronomical. According to estimates from the Department of Homeland Security the costs per mile of fencing ranges from $3.8 -- $10 million per mile due to terrain. Putting more Border Patrol agents and utilizing National Guard resources is costly as well. The area that has been neglected the most, and costs the least is immigration policy reform. http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/systems/mexico-wall.htm
I have spoken with numerous people over the past year. I purposely reached out to people in our area across a wide spectrum of political beliefs from Libertarians and Tea Party folks to Progressives and Green Party individuals. I understand on the Conservative side they want accountability, which I agree with. I also understand Liberals want a path to citizenship, which I also agree with. I say we can have both, and generate revenue for the states at the same time!
Here is my idea. For all those in this country who have not committed a felony, grant them citizenship. However, in exchange for citizenship, they will incur a 1% increase in their federal income taxes for a period of five years. This 1% will then go directly to the state's general fund for which the immigrants claim residency. It is not amnesty. Amnesty is something for nothing. This is something for a price. Those that sign up for this program would not receive any federal benefits until after the five-year period.
In addition to policy change, I would advocate a work visa program that fluctuates with population growth. Right now, there is a flat rate of work visas that the government issues. Despite growth in populations, the number remains stagnant. Without a change in the work visa program, we will always have people trying to come across our borders seeking employment regardless of enforcement measures.
By changing the policy, we would reduce the damage done to our environment, reduce the toll on humans crossing our borders, and generate revenue for our state. This would allow border enforcement officials to really focus on those committing felonies like the drug trafficking. This idea is bi-partisan, which is needed at a time of heightened partisan politics in our country.