On Nov. 6 Montana voters can demonstrate their concern about illegal immigration by voting “FOR” Legislative Referendum LR-121 to deny many state-taxpayer funded benefits and services to illegal aliens.
During the 2011 session our Legislature passed HB 638 which placed LR-121 on the ballot. As the state representative who sponsored this bill, I want to explain why you should help me enact LR-121 with your “FOR” vote.
There are many illegal aliens in Montana. Reports from around the state of law enforcement encounters with illegals are further testimony. A brief article in the April 2, 2010, Billings Gazette mentioned arrests in the preceding weeks by Border Patrol officers based in Havre of 20 illegal aliens hailing from Poland, Iraq, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico.
The U.S. Attorney for Montana prosecutes a steady stream of immigration violators, primarily people who have re-entered the U.S. illegally after being deported previously. In 2009, about 6.5 percent of the sentences for criminal convictions reported were for illegal re-entries. This same year one-third of the U.S. Attorney cases for Wyoming involved illegal aliens.
Although the illegal immigration problem is still smaller in Montana, we should learn from the mistakes of other states that waited until it was too late to act.
In 1990 Georgia had approximately 35,000 illegal aliens, about half of one percent of Georgia’s 6.5-million population. In 2010, according to the 2011 Pew Hispanic Center reports Georgia had about 425,000 illegal aliens of all nationalities.
In the 1990’s Georgians probably thought, “This could cost too much and the problem is just in the southwest border states like Texas and California.” So they ignored this problem until their illegal-alien population became Texas and California-sized. Due to their inaction, Georgia now spends more than $2 billion annually on public benefits for families headed by illegal aliens according to the Forum for American Immigration Reform.
Consequences for inaction in states with illegal immigration problems are legislative battles dividing the state, and litigation by our own federal government which is failing in every aspect of enforcing the rule of law regarding illegal immigration.
Liberal legislative critics and left leaning entities like the ACLU who oppose LR-121 complain about the cost of implementing this referendum. They almost never consider the costs of doing nothing. They do not seem to realize there are only a few ways for illegal aliens to live illegally in Montana and two of them are living off Montana’s state benefits and taking our jobs.
No state agency testified against HB638 during the legislative hearings and their cost estimate for complying with LR-121 was zero. If LR–121 passes our state agencies will be able to do the due diligence necessary to protect Montana citizens. This process will save our tax dollars with the side benefit of discouraging illegal aliens from having a presence in Montana. For the sake of Montana’s future generations, please vote “FOR” LR-121.
Rep. David Howard