Arizona Can't Afford Immigration Crackdown

Jailing immigrants costly for cash-strapped state
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2010 11:53 AM CDT
Arizona Can't Afford Immigration Crackdown
Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies, left, check the shoes of a suspect arrested during a crime suppression sweep in Phoenix on Thursday, July 29, 2010.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona might have one little problem with its controversial new immigration law: It can’t afford to enforce it. The state already has a budget deficit of at least $368 million, and jailing illegal immigrants could expand that significantly. Holding, say, 5,000 immigrants would cost the state $182.5 million a year, the Christian Science Monitor estimates. Turning them over to the federal government for deportation would cut down that bill, but ICE already has its hands full.

Deportations have risen under Barack Obama, but the head of ICE told Congress last month that the agency doesn’t have the resources to deport any more, and so is focusing on only those that pose a national security or public safety risk. Besides, the federal government hasn’t exactly been friendly to Arizona’s efforts. The State Department cited the federal lawsuit against Arizona as a human rights endeavor in a recent report to the UN, the AP reports. Governor Jan Brewer blasted the department, calling the report “downright offensive.” (More illegal immigration stories.)

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