Our country was built, with a solid immigration policy in place, by hard working immigrants. Now with an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in our country, new immigration reforms should be put in place to allow healthy law abiding illegal immigrants to become legal citizens. But in doing so, we must protect the health, welfare and safety of our current citizens, while paying close attention to the pocketbooks of our taxpayers.
Reasonable people working close to and in our community estimate that we have 1,000 to 3,000 "illegal" immigrants living in Beardstown, Cass County, Illinois. (Pop. 13,600). Many illegals work, and but for violating immigration laws, abide by our laws. What seem like a significant number of the illegal population do not work and do not abide by our laws. During the course of a year, we process hundreds of illegals through our criminal court system for felonies, misdemeanors, and traffic cases. Illegal juvenile offenders are also processed, and human services through DCFS are made available to illegals in parental abuse and neglect cases. These additional costs in our justice system cost our county and state taxpayers for police (city, county and state), probation officers, interpreters, county jail expenses, and DCFS workers; also, we pay for parenting classes, anger-management training, alcohol treatment, substance abuse treatment, and mental health evaluations and treatment. Many of our illegals try to avoid prosecution. Cass County has 282 arrest warrants for illegals that have been issued and remain outstanding, but not served, because the illegals have left our area, are in hiding, or are now going by a new fictitious name. These warrants were issued primarily because after receiving notice to appear in court for some violation, they simply refuse to appear.
The above problems are compounded by the possibility that illegals are in certain instances not shouldering their fair share of the tax burden. Acknowledging the fact that there are always a percentage of tax cheaters, regardless of the population, one can review the following three ways that illegals may use to reduce or avoid paying income tax. Firstly, they work for cash since they don't have a valid social security card. Secondly, they get a false social security card and work for an employer that withholds taxes, but they list numerous dependants, sometimes false, on their W-4 form so that very little income tax is withheld and then they do not file a tax return. Thirdly, we know of one Mexican tax preparer who was attaching a similar fraudulent schedule "C" to all of the returns he prepared for Hispanics that showed enough of a business loss to eliminate any tax liability for his customers. Senate Bill 744 should mostly eliminate these problems.
Since my wife has gone through the entire immigration process and is now a U.S. citizen I know that there are two very important differences between "legal" immigrants and "illegal" immigrants. A legal immigrant completes and passes an extensive physical exam with complete blood work to prove they have no diseases or illnesses to spread or medical conditions that will financially burden our already stressed health care system. A legal immigrant must also obtain a criminal history from the federal and local governments in his/her country of origin proving he/she has no past criminal history. A person who meets these criteria has a greatly increased chance of eventually becoming a productive, healthy, upstanding member of society in the United States of America.
Medical providers and statistics can verify the increased financial burden to taxpayers associated with the diagnosis and treatment of all the illegal aliens in our county. Medical providers have also expressed their concern that illegals diagnosed with serious health conditions, such as TB, begin treatment, but do not follow up to complete treatment, thereby posing a risk not only to themselves, but to the general population, with no way to track these individuals. Lastly, some illegals require extensive treatment and hospitalizations. Therefore, the rule that legal immigrants must have and pass a physical exam with appropriate and extensive blood work before they can come and stay in the U.S. is a good one. This rule has served our country well, and should definitely be a requirement for anyone to remain in this country under any provisions of a new immigration reform law.
Once an illegal immigrant from Mexico sets foot in our country, we can no longer get a Mexican criminal history of any kind because the Mexican government says to do so would violate their privacy laws. Thus, all of the Mexican illegals that get criminal charges filed on them here in state or federal court are viewed and treated as first offenders. They could have numerous felonies from Mexico and have spent years in Mexican prisons. Not only can their prior criminal history not be used against them in a local sentencing hearing, the prosecutors can't even find out about it.
Why don't we just send the Mexicans that commit crimes here in the U.S. back to Mexico to serve their prison sentences? 28 UST 7399- Tias 8718, informally referred to as "The Treaty" governs what happens to U.S. citizens arrested, convicted, and sentenced in Mexico and viceversa. It says that if the prison sentence is for more than 6 months, then the defendant can request to serve his prison time in his own country. The U.S. citizens petition to come back to the U.S. to go to prison, but as you can imagine, the Mexicans have no interest in going back to Mexico to serve out their prison sentences. Therefore, the U.S. taxpayers again get the opportunity to pay for both.
The Department of Homeland Security has guidelines that tell them when they can arrest and start the deportation process against an illegal. They can identify, locate, and arrest illegals who are Level I or Level II offenders. Basically, a Level I offender is an illegal who has two felony convictions in the U.S. and a Level II offender is one that has three misdemeanor convictions in the U.S. If an illegal is not a Level I or II offender, DHS-ICE will leave them alone unless for some reason they "encounter" them.
The arrest of Level I offenders comes after they have completed their jail or prison sentences here in state or federal court. This means the State of Illinois pays to house them in prison before any deportation process is started. If a deportation proceeding is filed and the illegal contests it, which is likely to occur, then the hearing on that petition may be delayed for as many as 18 months or more. In the meantime, the illegal lives among us, after posting a bond, because DHS-ICE has limited jail space to house these criminals. If he cannot post a bond, U.S. taxpayers have to pay to house him.
While the number of illegals in our state prison system is probably readily ascertainable, my best guess is that number is over 4,000. If that number is multiplied by the housing cost of a prisoner in Illinois ($25,000 per year), the cost of incarceration of illegals is over $100,000,000 per year. When these costs are compounded by those costs outlined in the preceding paragraphs, it is clear that the State of Illinois may be spending well over $200,000,000 per year providing services to illegals through their use of criminal justice resources and human resources, combined with incarceration costs.
The Federal prison system now houses approximately 40,000 Mexican citizens. The cost of housing each federal inmate is $40,000 per year. This means the yearly cost to keep Mexican illegals in the federal prison system is 1.6 billion dollars. 22,000 inmates are in federal prisons for immigration violations, some of which are Mexican. Totally, our federal prison system houses over 200,000 inmates.
Do you think that Mexican citizens that are illegally in the U.S. that have committed a serious crime in the U.S. and sentenced to prison should be housed in Mexican prisons, if not at Mexico's expense, at least at their cost of incarceration (maybe $4,000 per year)? Would you agree we need a complete criminal history from Mexico on their citizens that come to America without a visa and get convicted of violating our criminal laws? This would make criminal sentences for illegals consistent with those of US. citizens. Do you think that the costs of our human services networks, criminal justice system, and law enforcement system needs to be shared by all those making a living from working in our country?
Thomas Jefferson said, "Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly." The problem is our taxpayers are paying for all of this expense willingly, because they don't know about it, nor have they thought about it. Hopefully, those who read this letter will check it out for themselves, discuss it with others, and contact their respective congressmen with their opinions.
Federal officials have agreed to meet with us to try to address some of these issues.