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Borderline Enforcement Disorder

by Mytheos Holt, published

As if the prison expansion mandates weren't enough, California's people now face yet another unfairly created, unfunded liability.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Fifteen years after Congress promised that Washington would help states pick up the tab for imprisoning illegal immigrants convicted of crimes, California is receiving but a fraction -- less than 12 cents on the dollar -- of its nearly $1-billion annual cost.

In other words, the federal government is refusing to pick up the tab for a failure of its own criminal justice system, to say nothing of the absurdly ill-administered border controls, which seem to get brought up for castigation almost ritually by advocates of scrapping the rule of law. What is always mysteriously left out of these border-bashing sessions is any suggestion for how to make sure that we are to remain capable of enforcing even the laxest border policy.

But this case is even more absurd, as the state now has to worry about what happens after immigrants break the law more than once. A quick consideration of the logic involved clearly exhibits what is wrong, so let's go through such an exercise right now:

Suppose one such "immigrant" breaks into the country. That immigrant already has one legal strike against him/her. Now suppose that "immigrant" commits a felony. As the "immigrant" in question is not a citizen of the United States, there should be no question about sending them back to his or her native country to be tried and sentenced in their courts. But because the border is so weak that such an "immigrant" might find a way of coming back, California's taxpayers are expected to prop up court-appointed defense attorneys for these immigrants and then pay for their jail time!

It's a wonder "crime" hasn't become one of the United States's recognized major imports.

Now, one could find reason for optimism even in this ugly situation. After all, California's appeals for increased funding have met with sympathetic ears among officials in Washington, among them Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (herself a Californian). Unfortunately, even this optimism must be tempered, as no matter how this problem ends up being handled, California's taxpayers will be shafted.

Why so, one might ask. The answer is that, if one ranks states by personal per capita income, California is in the wealthiest 20 percent of states in the Union (clocking in at number 9). This means that, whatever programs the federal government undertakes, Californians will end up paying a disproportionate amount for them in federal taxes. What this means is that even if Californians do ultimately receive more funding from the federal government to take care of our prison problem, those same Californians will still be paying a sizable percentage of the required taxes.

One might as well pay for this at the state level, except for the problem that the state was already over-budgeted, meaning that Californians will have to lean on the benevolence of the federal government for a while. Unfortunately, said benevolence is likely to soon make enforcement of border laws even more laughable, considering that President Obama has made noises about moving in the direction of amnesty.

So close the door on your way in. We can't afford to put it back on its hinges

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