Friday, February 11, 2011

Missouri Ahead of the Game

I'm sure you've seen the headlines about Arizona's new law aimed at dealing with those who enter our country illegally. It has been called the strictest immigration law in generations. While Missouri hasn't gone to the same lengths as Arizona, our state has made significant policy changes that effectively deal with illegal immigrants who enter our state. Because of those changes, Missouri is ahead of the game when compared to many other states that are now dealing with this issue.

In 2007, the Missouri General Assembly approved HJR 7 to place on the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment designating English as the official language of Missouri. Voters then went to the polls and approved the measure with nearly 90 percent voting in favor. With that, English became the official language for all governmental proceedings in Missouri. It also means no individual has the right to demand government services in a language other than English. A common language is the cornerstone of a cohesive and united state and country. Ensuring that English is our official language is simply common sense.

Another measure that directly addresses the issue of illegal immigration was passed in 2008. HB 1549 requires our Highway Patrol and other law enforcement officials to verify the immigration status of any person arrested, and inform federal authorities if the person is found to be here illegally. It also allows Missouri law enforcement officers to receive training to enforce federal immigration laws. Furthermore, the bill makes it clear that illegal immigrants will not have access to taxpayer benefits such as food stamps and health care through MO HealthNet.

With the passage of this legislation, Missouri sent a clear message that illegal immigrants are not welcome in our state, and that they are certainly not welcome to receive public benefits at the cost of Missouri taxpayers.

2009 saw another significant piece of legislation passed dealing with illegal immigration. HB 390 ensures Missouri's public institutions of higher education do not award financial aid to individuals who are here illegally. The law also requires all postsecondary institutions of higher education to annually certify to the Missouri Department of Higher Education that they have not knowingly awarded financial aid to students who are unlawfully present in the United States. The bill represents another common sense approach to the issue as it ensures taxpayer dollars are not used to subsidize the education of someone who is in our country illegally.

So while Arizona has made national news for its new law, it's important to remember Missouri has been proactive in addressing this growing problem. The laws we have on the books help ensure the rights and benefits of Missourians are preserved for actual Missouri citizens. It's also important to remember that this country has always opened its arms to immigrants, which is why our nation is often referred to as the great melting pot. Immigrants from all parts of the world have helped make our country what it is today. However, our doors are not open to those who try to live in our country illegally. I believe Missouri's laws make that very clear and give our law enforcement officials the authority they need to deal with the problem.


Australia: High cost of weak-kneed Leftist policy

The cost of Labor's border protection policy has blown out by $480 million as a stretched Immigration Department struggles to cope with a record 6000 detainees. Taxpayers are forking out tens of millions of dollars in extra staff and to bolster patrol boat operations in northern waters, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Customs has also been forced to employ an extra 37 full-time staff to cope with the influx of asylum seekers who are mainly from the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The blow-out - which the Coalition claims could more than double in the next 12 months - follows last year's record arrival of 134 boats carrying 6535 asylum seekers.

It comes amid reports the first funeral will be held shortly following December's Christmas Island tragedy that killed up to 40 asylum seekers.

The high costs of processing people fleeing their homeland was highlighted with an additional $290 million outlay for the immigration agency, announced yesterday. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said this reflected "a rise in the estimated number of asylum seekers requiring processing in 2010-11, the extra time to be spent in detention as a consequence of [last year's] High Court decision, and the increasing number of people found not to be genuine refugees".

Another $190 million will be spent on building two new detention centres, including the new facility at Inverbrackie in the Adelaide Hills.

"As a result of the Government's failed border protection policies, more boats are coming, more people are in detention in record numbers and people are staying longer in detention." Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said the Government will now spend more than $760 million on people arriving illegally in Australia in 2010-11, compared with less than $100 million annually when the Howard Government left office in 2007. "The total budget blow-out since Labor started rolling back the strong border protection regime they inherited is now more than $1.4 billion and counting," he said.

Documents obtained through FOI show the number of patrol days involving Customs and border protection vessels has grown from 3092 in 2008 to 3529 last year. An extra 23 marine crew have been hired since August 2008, when the Labor Government abolished temporary protection visas - a decision the Coalition claims has contributed to the record arrivals.

"We do not apologise for requiring asylum seekers to undergo the required health and security checks before being released from detention," Mr Bowen said. "We will not apologise for providing alternative accommodation for vulnerable families and children, rather than the high-security detention centres and the barbed wire solutions of the Howard Government."


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