Tags: Arnold | Realizing | Immigration | Impact?

Arnold Realizing Immigration Impact?

Wednesday, 20 April 2005 12:00 AM

Within the Schwarzenegger circle of financial contributors and insiders, the approach is working, as some positive measures have been passed at the ballot box. But with the public – "the people," as Arnold calls them – he's bombing. His once-75-percent approval rating is now under 50 percent. He's way too intelligent not to know why, on his own, without the talking points.

Now a fact and some simple suggestions to promote an honest, commonsense dialogue about an enormous problem many of us expected from this can-do man:

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (December 2004): "Analysis of the latest Census data indicates that California's illegal immigrant population is costing the state's taxpayers more than $10.5 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. Even if the estimated tax contributions of illegal immigrant workers are subtracted, net outlays still amount to nearly $9 billion per year. The annual fiscal burden from those three areas of state expenditures amounts to about $1,183 per household headed by a native-born resident."

If you're going to heal the patient, submit a diagnosis of the entire body. If you're going to assail bloated pension plans of retired workers, explain why we the overtaxed should pay $1,100 each for services to the undocumented. If you're going to "aggressively address" education while ignoring the fact that across the state there are entire school districts composed of newly arrived, non-English-speaking students, don't expect the public (or the teachers) to get excited about merit pay.

But there's a glimmer of hope. While speaking at a newspaper publishers convention in San Francisco on Tuesday, April 19, Arnold offered a surprising about-face statement on immigration (KNTV-San Jose): "Close the borders between California and all across Mexico. I think it's unfair to have all those people coming across."

Perhaps he is finally realizing that the public is serious about this issue, and that the enormous success of the Minuteman Project on the Arizona border (with additional border monitoring programs slated to start in San Diego) equates with the governor's common refrain that "the people should act when the government won't."

The timing of the governor's statement is interesting as well. In conjunction with the skyrocketing popularity of "Broken Borders" with CNN's Lou Dobbs, a program that night after night delivers the facts, reveals the claptrap and operates on a keen bedrock of immigration common sense, the Schwarzenegger administration also realizes that border security will be at the forefront when a national drive for immigration reform, led by former San Diego mayor and talk show host Roger Hedgecock, commences in Washington on April 23.

In light of the fact that a Republican president now proposes a guest-worker program for illegal immigrants, a move most pundits describe as amnesty in disguise for anywhere from 8 to 14 million illegal immigrants, the majority of whom reside in California, it looks as if the state is back to square one with the primary reason why the world's fifth-largest economy can't afford to pay its bills.

Back in 1999, Schwarzenegger was asked about running for public office by Talk magazine. "I think about it many times. The possibility is there because I feel it inside. I feel there are a lot of people standing still and not doing enough. And there's a vacuum."

Governor Schwarzenegger may be on the verge of a personal and political breakthrough. If he has the courage to speak honestly about this complex and divisive issue, he could become the most important political figure in our time.

Or ... he could become just another politician, a legacy a man like this would have a hard time living down.

Patrick Mallon is a political columnist and author of "California Dictatorship: How Liberal Extremism Destroyed Gray Davis." His Web site is www.patrickmallon.com

He can be contacted at Patrick@patrickmallon.com

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Within the Schwarzenegger circle of financial contributors and insiders, the approach is working, as some positive measures have been passed at the ballot box. But with the public "the people," as Arnold calls them he's bombing. His once-75-percent approval rating is...
Arnold,Realizing,Immigration,Impact?
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2005-00-20
Wednesday, 20 April 2005 12:00 AM
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