Tag: arizona republic

Yes, Illegal Immigrants Are Influenced by ID Policies

It is a premise of national identification policy that requiring proof of lawful presence to get an ID, then requiring the use of that ID for many essential functions of life, would make it more difficult to be an illegal immigrant in the United States. The natural result of having a national ID and routine identity checks would be suppression of illegal immigration. The premise is undoubtedly true.

The question is how much influence it would have on illegal immigrants’ decision whether to come to, or remain in, this country. And how much it would cause illegal immigrants to take other steps, such as avoidance of ID checks?

A recent article in the Arizona Republic illustrates that leaving the country isn’t the obvious step for illegal immigrants faced with the lawful presence requirement. “Illegal Immigrants Flocking to 3 States to Obtain Identification” tells the story of how illegal immigrant Carlos Hernandez moved his family to Washington state after the passage of S.B. 1070 in Arizona. The story is illustrated with a picture of Hernandez watching his 2-year-old daughter play on a slide near their apartment in Burien, Washington.

“Hernandez said he knows other illegal immigrants who considered New Mexico because of the ease of getting a license. But he and others thought Washington would be safer.”

One inference from the story is that states with “weak” licensing requirements should tighten things up. But would Hernandez’ young daughter have better prospects if he moved the family to Puebla, Mexico, or would she be better off living in the United States with a father who acquired a false U.S. identification? In many cases, a family man like Hernandez will take the risk of acquiring and using false ID to provide his daughter the stable environment and opportunities the United States has to offer.

A national ID system, and background checks instituted for access to work, housing, and financial services, would suppress illegal immigration some, but it would also drive greater identity fraud and corruption.

The next question is how much inconvenience and tracking the natural-born and naturalized citizens of the country should suffer in order to achieve the marginal gains of presssuring illegal immigrants this way.

On balance, the gains are not worth the costs—especially when the “gains” include making life worse for Carlos Hernandez’ young daughter.

Arizona Republic Leads the Way on Immigration

In a gutsy display for a newspaper, the Arizona Republic in a front-page editorial yesterday castigated the state’s top politicians for a failure of leadership on immigration.

Prompting the editorial was the passage of Arizona’s tough new law making it a crime to be an illegal immigrant in the state. Under the banner headline, “STOP FAILING ARIZONA; START FIXING IMMIGRATION,” the state’s major newspaper fired with both barrels:

We need leaders.
The federal government is abdicating its duty on the border.
Arizona politicians are pandering to public fear.
The result is a state law that intimidates Latinos while doing nothing to curb illegal immigration.
This represents years of failure. Years of politicians taking the easy way and allowing the debate to descend into chaos.
The Arizona Republic has been calling for comprehensive immigration reform continuously since 2002. For a brief time, our congressional delegation led the nation on
this front. But no more.
Now, it seems our elected officials prefer to serve political expediency instead.

The editorial then named ten prominent political leaders from the state, Republicans and Democrats alike, who have either failed to champion real reform for fear of a political backlash, or who have stoked the backlash with inflammatory rhetoric.

2002 was also the year that the Cato Institute made the case for comprehensive immigration reform with my study, “Willing Workers: Fixing the Problem of Illegal Mexican Migration to the United States.” The study argued that enforcement alone will not solve the problem. Immigration law itself must be changed to accommodate the legitimate labor-force needs of a growing U.S. economy.

The Republic editorial put the argument succinctly:

Reform must create a legal pipeline for future workers that is demand-based and temporary. With a legal framework in place, there will be no reason to be in this country without permission. Foreigners who break our laws will be prosecuted, punished and deported.

Comprehensive reform will make the border safer. When migrant labor is channeled through the legal ports of entry, the Border Patrol can focus on catching drug smugglers and other criminals instead of chasing busboys across the desert.

Real leaders will have the courage to say that.

One real newspaper has shown them how.

K-12 Education Tax Credits Save Millions

The latest fiscal impact review of Arizona’s scholarship tax credit programs estimates that they saved between $44 million and $186 million last year.  The programs offer individuals and businesses dollar-for-dollar tax credits if they make donations to non-profit K-12 scholarship-granting organizations. Those organizations, in turn, provide private school tuition assistance.

This is much higher than the savings estimate offered by the Arizona Republic last month, as the AZ Republic story linked above is quick to point out. I deal with the reasons for the discrepancy below, but first, here’s the crucial fact that the Republic has missed yet again: if the tax credit programs were significantly expanded, such as by raising the donation caps, the state would undeniably save many hundreds of millions of dollars annually. In fact, if the share of AZ schoolchildren participating in the program rose to just 40 percent, taxpayers would save billions of dollars a year – even if the size of the individual scholarships had to triple to achieve that result.

The Republic’s failure to report that inescapable and rather important fact does it no credit.

Now, on to the reason for the discrepancy in savings numbers. The body of the story hints at it: the Republic’s estimate assumed that private school enrollment would have been flat or increasing without the tax credit program, while the latest estimate does not.

As I pointed out at the time, the Republic’s assumption is demonstrably mistaken. Official AZ statistics show that enrollment in private schools peaked before the tax credit program had gotten under way, and had begun to decline as a result of rapid growth in the (tuition-free) charter school sector. So the Republic’s savings estimate was almost certainly too low.

As the author of the latest study admits, his assumptions about the true number of students who have migrated to private schools as a result of the program are speculative, but at least they are reasonable and not obviously erroneous, as the Republic’s were. In any event, the savings from a much larger migration to the private sector are not in doubt.

Arizona Republic Corrects its Tax Credit Savings Estimate in Response to Cato Input

Last Wednesday, the Arizona Republic published a fiscal impact assessment of the state’s education tax credit programs for k-12 private school choice. While the story itself was a good faith effort, there were errors in both its data and assumptions. I wrote an op-ed intended for the Republic correcting those errors and e-mailed a copy to the story’s author, Ron Hansen, the same day his story was published.

While the paper’s editorial page expressed no interest in printing my submission, the Republic published a correction today based on the accurate spending and savings figures I provided. In a phone call, Hansen indicated that the correction was precipitated by my e-mail, though he opted not to mention that in his story, saying that he didn’t think the source of the correction was important.

On the one hand, Hansen and the Republic are to be commended for publishing a correction, and it should be noted that the bad data were provided to them by Arizona Director of School Finance, Yousef Awwad. On the other hand, their correction is incomplete – acknowledging only the bad data and not the mistaken assumption explained in my op-ed.

So while the Republic has now raised its savings estimate from their originally reported $3 million to a corrected $8.3 million, they have yet to explain that this figure could actually understate the total savings.

Still, their response is better than I expected.  Most newspapers, in my experience, do absolutely nothing when factual and reasoning errors in their education stories are brought to their attention, and in fact go on to repeat those same errors in subsequent stories.

And they wonder why two thirds of the public now doubt their credibility….