Wednesday, September 26, 2007

San Diego Wants to Bill Bush for Undocumented Immigrants

The San Diego Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to attempt to bill the federal government for the supposed cost of undocumented immigrants.  In an exceptionally pathetic (even by normal standards) attempt to steal money and headlines without any underlying logic, the Board commissioned a report to examine only the negative economic impact of undocumented workers and ignore the economic benefits of taxes paid and goods and services purchased.  The kicker?  They want the bill to be paid with money that the undocumented immigrants paid into the Social Security system via taxes. Taxes of course were not included in the study.

The Board specifically voted to enlist the aid of immigration zealot and all around xenophobic crazy person Brian Bilbray (who is "eager" to work on this with the Supervisors) in getting legislation passed which would:

make it easier for local law enforcement officials to track illegal immigrants wanted for crimes;

change the Medicare Modernization Act to pay local hospitals $155 million for unpaid bills from illegal immigrants;

make the federal government pay local governments from the Social Security fund into which people pay but do not collect, often because they have worked using phony Social Security documents. Reports have estimated that illegal immigrants pay $7 billion in taxes into that fund each year.

Supervisor Bill Horn commented on the maneuver which echoes previous attempts to squeeze funding from the feds in 1994 and 2001, saying "I don't want to just grandstand, I really want the money this time," apparently confirming that the last two times they didn't really want the money and were, in fact, just grandstanding.

There is a legitimate point to be made that the tax dollars generated by undocumented immigrants generally go to state or federal coffers and not to localities via property taxes while the outgoing money often flows from the local level.  But this is a completely backwards and shameful way to go about, let's face it, really lame and overdone grandstanding.

The North County Times notes pokes further holes in the study by pointing out that "the study did not account for the costs of education or unpaid medical bills for illegal immigrants, although it used estimates from the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties to come up with its figure of $155 million in unpaid medical care costs."

Nor, from what I can gather, did the study delve into the degree to which local taxes mitigated the poorly-determined "cost" for citizens.  Hell, I don't pay property taxes cause I can't afford property.  But I pay many of the same state and federal taxes that undocumented workers would.  What's the economic difference?

This was a pathetic attempt by the Board of Supervisors to validate their greed and anti-immigration hysteria, and they got a study that, by completely ignoring reality, gave them the answers they wanted.  Freed from the chains of a responsibility to logic or competent governance,  the Board is now going full bore after money and social divisiveness.  I'm looking forward to a governing body who spends less time casting blame and more time actually improving the community.

Cross posted from Calitics

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