Tony Davis, Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), Sept. 3
The bills aren’t all in yet, but the costs of dealing with illegal immigration are running more than three times the emergency $1.5 million Gov. Janet Napolitano has agreed to send to Southern Arizona, officials of four border counties said Friday.
Expect at least a $5 million tab over the next six months to a year for law enforcement, accident response, trash cleanup, health care and autopsy cases involving illegal immigrants, say officials of Pima, Cochise, Santa Cruz and Yuma counties. Pima County expects to spend $2 million in illegal immigrant-related matters in the next six months.
Yuma County says it spends $2.2 million each year on jailing illegal immigrants and currently receives only $200,000 in federal aid in compensation. Cochise County says it needs $800,000 to $1 million in help to deal with illegal immigration. Santa Cruz County says its tab is at least $100,000.
On Tuesday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to seek emergency help from the state and federal governments and whether to proclaim an “Arizona-Mexico International Border Security Emergency Affecting Pima County.”
County officials hope that their huge immigration-related costs will convince the governor that she needs to take a step beyond her own emergency declaration last month and to ask the federal government to declare a national emergency.
County officials will turn in complete figures to the state by mid-September, in hopes of getting additional help, including funds from a federal declaration of national border emergency requested by Napolitano.
Help is needed for a variety of costs, officials said, including:
Paying for costs to jail illegal entrants accused of crimes.
Paying to respond to reports of crimes by or against illegal entrants.
Alleged kidnapping cases, in which people saying they are immigrants report being held by smugglers for ransom.
Accidents involving vans or other large vehicles carrying groups of illegal entrants.
Recovery and autopsies of illegal entrants found dead in the desert.
Picking up trash left behind by illegal entrants crossing the desert.