A Colorado newspaper recently trumpeted the announcement that “Colorado county jails no longer holding immigrants for ICE.” The same thing is happening in practically every state: Local law enforcement is abandoning any attempt to help the federal government identify and deport criminal aliens.

The untold story is how much the willful neglect of immigration law enforcement is costing the nation and the states.

Let’s start with the elementary, provable fact that both the headline and the text of that newspaper story are untrue. Local sheriffs’ policies toward the requests of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is not a story about “immigrants.” It is a story about illegal aliens subject to possible – but increasingly unlikely – deportation if they commit serious crimes. Lawful immigrants are not under threat of deportation by ICE, and they are not the target of ICE detainers (“immigration holds”).

The suddenly controversial issue in the courts and before sheriffs and public officials is whether local sheriffs should honor ICE requests for “holds” on persons already identified as illegal aliens and possibly subject to deportation if ICE decides to take the person into custody and start deportation proceedings. The controversy is about the fate of illegal aliens already in jail because they are charged with some criminal act, not an immigration violation. Under Obama, ICE will start deportation proceedings only when the illegal alien has committed a violent crime, not merely because they are here illegally.

What such shallow stories do not bother to tell the reader is that some of those so-called “immigration violations” are for “felony re-entry after deportation,” where the original deportation was after conviction for a serious crime. When a convicted violent criminal alien serves his sentence and is deported and then re-enters the country unlawfully, he has committed the federal crime of felony re-entry and is subject to a five-year prison sentence.

Now, thanks to the new policies being adopted and applauded by our local sheriffs, those criminals are now being released back into our communities before ICE can take them into custody. But you would not know any of that from the newspaper story.

Yet, the news media are not the only culprits in the decade-long conspiracy to hide the costs of illegal immigration from citizens, taxpayers and the victims of crime. Those costs are never part of the “immigration debate” because they are unknown: The costs are never tabulated or made public. In fact, the government goes to great lengths to avoid acknowledging that those costs even exist.

A good example is the skillful avoidance of any public debate over the long-term costs to state and local taxpayers for the placement of over 67,000 “Unaccompanied Children” from Central America who were apprehended by the Border Patrol this year. Also, those 67,000 are on top of the 38,833 apprehended in 2013 and the 58,870 apprehended between 2010 and 2012. That’s a total of over 160,000 children (ages 1-17). Unfortunately, we do not know the total of how many have been relocated by the federal government to families and “sponsors” in local communities, but it is likely well over 100,000.

The mainstream media story has been that the cost of relocating these thousands of children to local communities is being born by federal agencies, not local government. That fact is used to remove local officials from the decision. But that is a half-truth that hides an unpleasant truth: Once resettled in local communities, 90 percent of the costs of K-12 education for those children will be born by state and local agencies, NOT the federal government.

Concerned about the impact of illegal aliens on the United States? Don’t miss Tom Tancredo’s book, “In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America’s Border and Security” — and with your purchase get a free copy of “Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America’s Borders”!

According to a recent report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the costs for the first 37,000 children will total over $761 million in the first year alone. For example, based on federal data regarding the states where the children are being placed, Colorado taxpayers are on the hook for $4 million for the education of 263 children. Texas taxpayers will pay $77 million and New York taxpayers $147 million – in the next school year alone.

School costs are only one example of the hidden costs that are never discussed in the news media or by our politicians. The costs for health care and law enforcement are effectively hidden from public view by never being collected or tabulated. Who will dispute that the public should have this information? Yet, all we hear is a deafening silence.

Even on the rare occasion when a state legislature demands accountability from the federal government for these costs, local officials often drop the ball. In 2006, the Colorado Legislature passed a bill instructing the state attorney general to calculate the true costs of incarcerating illegal aliens in state prisons and county jails and send an invoice to the U.S. Department of Justice. The Republican attorney general dutifully complied with the law, but he used only the figures calculated by the state Department of Corrections and neglected to collect similar cost figures from the state’s county jails, where the cumulative annual costs typically are double what they are for the state prison system.

The only possible excuse for the laziness of local officials in not collecting true cost figures in law enforcement, education and health care is that, at bottom, the whole mess is a product of the federal government’s immigration policies and the lack of federal immigration enforcement. Moreover, this problem goes back many years, preceding the Obama administration’s unprecedented expansion and abuse of “prosecutorial discretion” to reduce deportations.

The federal government’s habit of dumping costs onto local communities goes back to a federal court ruling in 1982. In Plyler v. Doe, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision that said Texas public schools could not deny a free public education to illegal alien children. However, the dirty little secret of that ruling is that it was not based mainly on an application of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment as is widely assumed. The court’s ruling in Plyler was instead based on the lack of proof in the 1982 Texas case that the cost of educating illegal alien children in 1982 placed an “undue burden” on Texas taxpayers. Thus, the court reasoned, the state had no “substantial interest” in denying them a tuition-free education. When we look at the K-12 education costs in 1982 compared to the costs 30 years later, when the costs have increased 10-fold, we must wonder why Texas has not appealed for a rehearing.

That no local school board or state education department has been willing to challenge Plyler is not because the taxpayer costs are still insignificant. More likely, it is because of the calcium deficiency in their backbones.

Media wishing to interview Tom Tancredo, please contact [email protected].

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