Can I tell you just how much I despise Arizona’s governor? Well, let me start by talking about her most recent sabotage.
Today was a big day for many young illegal immigrants. They turned out in the thousands to apply for a new deportation deferment and work permit, in hopes of avoiding deportation for at least a period of two years. Many of them meet the criteria (having come here before the age of 16, graduated from High School or have a GED or have served in the U.S. military, and no criminal record). Some of them didn’t completely qualify. Those who haven’t graduated from high school are now very motivated to do so via GED programs, so they can then apply.
We’re not talking about the tens of millions of illegal immigrants. We’re talking about a very small subset of them–about 800,000 in the U.S and about 80,000 of that total in Arizona. The reality is they will likely stay here regardless of Federal and State policy. The U.S. is, for the majority of these youth, the only home they have ever known. This deportation deferral / work permit program is a way to allow them to come out into the open, become legal to a certain degree and as a result, to better themselves and contribute to society. And let’s face it, since they are here to stay doesn’t it make sense for the rest of us that they do get legal and do better themselves?
Here are some of the benefits the U.S. will get out of allowing these young people to work legally here.
1. They will no longer have to work in the “cash only” underground economy for extremely low wages, being taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers (which are legion in AZ). Being legal, they can work in the real economy, making higher wages, which means paying more in taxes (both income and sales) and having more purchasing power. All to the good for the AZ economy.
2. If they make more money, they will be more likely to be able to afford healthcare instead of burdening our ER’s for routine visits. They will also be more likely to go to the doctor for preventative care instead of waiting until something reaches a crisis point. These things save money for us all.
3. We will be helping to keep families together (because some of these people are already married with kids). Families together means more potential income for the family and quite frankly, much better mental health outcomes, for their American children.
4. It also means they are more likely to be involved in their child’s educational and social lives–also a big benefit.
5. They will be more likely to report crimes and interact with the police to help solve crimes. This is a well known problem in law enforcement and affects us all when a crime goes unreported because that criminal will strike again and next time it won’t be an illegal immigrant. It just might be Mrs. Whitey White citizen and resident of Paradise Valley or Snottsdale, your grandmother, who might have been saved if the original victims weren’t scared out of their minds of being deported and therefore hiding from the police.
6. They are more likely to be educated or in the process of improving their educational status. This helps in so many ways and so obviously, I shouldn’t even have to explain why this is good for us all.
7. They are more likely to carry insurance for their home/apt and their vehicles. One of the reasons that car insurance is so darn high in AZ (besides all those blue haired snow birds that descend upon us every winter) is because of the high number of uninsured drivers. And it’s not just the illegal immigrants, there are plenty of poor citizens who don’t have insurance too. But if these young people are legally recognized and financially better off, then insurance becomes likelier and the rest of us benefit (hmmmm, sort of like healthcare, but I digress).
Sounds like a pretty good deal all the way around, right? Well, not according to Gov. “Leather Face” Brewer. She doesn’t like the President’s deferred deportation order, so she decided she would create her own order in response and she would sign it on the very day that all those hopeful young people were first eligible to apply for the new federal program.
Her Executive Order tells state agencies that they are not to provide driver’s licenses or other public benefits to this population of people. This means the likelihood of their being able to obtain car insurance without a drivers license is not good. So there goes that positive outcome. It also means they are less likely to get a legitimate job or open a bank account. It means that if they wanted to get a GED they would not be eligible for any of the free GED programs offered by the state and local governments. Yep, keeping them ignorant is a brilliant idea. Furthermore, some of them were actually going to college and paying in-state rates. But no more of that…they will have to pay out-of-state rates, meaning many will have to drop out of college. That’s absolutely, fucking brilliant there, because who wants more college graduates in AZ?! They can’t get a business or professional license so they can forget about moving up the social ladder. Their children, who are American citizens, won’t qualify for any state subsidized child care or health care because of this Order. Makes it pretty hard to work an 8 to 5 job when you can’t afford to pay for child care (and believe me, it is VERY expensive). So they are back to using the ER as their kid’s primary care physician.
So now with the stroke of a pen, Gov. Brewer has undone many of the things that the President’s executive order hoped to accomplish–things that, in the long run, would be good for Arizona. I’m sure she and her conservative cronies are very pleased with their cleverness. It’s just too bad that young men and women who only want to come out into the light, be a legal worker and contribute to the country and state that they love, some of whom actually risked their lives in the U.S. military for the rest of us, won’t be able to see any of the positive outcomes that being a legal worker entails. The rest of us won’t get to enjoy the benefits of those positive outcomes either. Instead, we will have to continue to watch these young people live in the shadows and pay the price for a lack of basic human decency on the part of Arizona politicians.
May the Good Lord, the Goddess or the FSM, if you prefer, save us from short-sighted, narrow-minded, petty, vindictive, hateful conservative politicians like Jan Brewer. Arizona just can’t win for losing with her in charge.