While illegal aliens flee strict immigration enforcement policies in several states and settle in Texas, the state's budget is suffering and violent crime, soaring.
News reports indicate a flood of illegal aliens is coming from states such as Arizona and Oklahoma – where immigration crackdowns have made life more difficult for them. In the meantime, Texas' violent crime rates have taken a turn for the worse.
WND researched FBI crime statistics from years 2006 to 2007 for 29 of Texas' largest cities with populations of more than 100,000. The Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report reveals two of the state's well-known sanctuary cities with "don't-ask-don't-tell" policies, Houston and Austin, have surging violent crime rates. Houston experienced an additional 314 violent crimes in 2007 compared with 2006 figures. Austin had 213 more violent crimes reported to law enforcement than the previous year.
According to the stats, overall, the 29 most populous Texas cities had 1,083 more violent crimes committed in 2007 than in 2006. While arrest records usually do not indicate suspect citizenship status, the crime trend matches a migration wave of illegal aliens coming from locations such as Arizona and Oklahoma – states with strict immigration enforcement policies and declining violent crime rates.
Getting tough on illegals
Since 2006, Oklahoma has passed laws cutting off benefits such as welfare and college financial aid to illegal aliens. Thousands of Hispanics fled the Tulsa, Okla., area in the shadow of a 2007 state law that limits benefits and mandates deportation for illegal aliens, according to a report from KTUL television in Tulsa.
The news report said in East Tulsa, where a community of Hispanics had grown over recent years, there was a sudden drop in population.
Deputies from the Tulsa County sheriff's office went through training to handle apprehension and deportation procedures, and prepare them to perform multiple duties of both deputy sheriffs and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz told KTUL in 2007 that the impact of the illegal alien population was evident everywhere in the state, especially in jails.
"We see the effects of gangs, we see the effects of illegal immigrants, we see the effects of drugs, we see the effects of methamphetamines," he said.
According to the FBI preliminary crime report, Tulsa experienced 264 fewer violent crimes in 2007 than in 2006.
Oklahoma law eliminates most taxpayer subsidies for illegal immigrants, allows state and local law enforcement officers to verify the residency status of those arrested and makes it a felony to shelter or transport illegal aliens.
Likewise, Arizona passed strict laws in 2007 requiring employers to verify the immigration status of employees – including one that suspends business licenses of people who hire illegal aliens. The crackdown prompted an exodus from that state.
"I would say we are losing at least 100 people a day," Elias Bermudez, founder of Immigrants Without Borders and host of a daily talk-radio program aimed at undocumented immigrants, told Arizona Republic.
The news report said it's impossible to count exactly how many illegal aliens have fled because of the law, but interviews with immigrant advocates, community workers and real-estate agents confirm the number is significant.
"Some are moving to other states, where they think they will have an easier time getting jobs," the report said. "Others are returning to Mexico, selling their effects and putting their houses on the market."
According to FBI figures, overall, Arizona's largest cities with populations of more than 100,000 experienced 765 fewer incidents of violent crime in 2007 than in the previous year.
Impact of illegal immigration on Texas
The Center for Immigration Studies estimates more than 1.7 million illegal aliens live in Texas. The state has a reputation for welcoming illegals, and it has not passed a law targeting employers who hire them.
Ortiz, a Mexican illegal alien, told the Associated Press he recently left Phoenix to find employment in Houston.
"Here, they let you work," he said. "Over there, they won't. There is a lot of racism, but here there isn't – it's better."
Between 8 percent and 9 percent of the Texas workforce is composed of illegal aliens – many who perform agriculture, restaurant and construction jobs. Critics say cracking down on employers who hire illegals could seriously hurt the state economy.
However, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, 44 percent of Texas' illegals use welfare programs including food stamps and Medicaid, while 70 percent are uninsured. It estimates the combined costs of education ($4 billion), medical care ($520 million) and incarceration ($150 million) of illegal aliens in Texas to be $4.7 billion each year.
While the uncompensated cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in Texas' state and county prisons amounts to about $150 million a year, it does not include local jail detention costs or related law enforcement and judicial expenditures or the monetary costs of crimes that led to their incarceration.
The Texas migration is not likely to subside soon, experts say. FAIR estimates, "Without any change in immigration policy or enforcement, i.e., with the current trend in large-scale legal and illegal immigration, the state's population is likely to increase from today's about 23 million residents to around 41 to 43 million persons in 2050."