Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fiscal Crisis in State Budget Impearls the Immigrant

States are reeling from deficits in their budgets, which by law must be balanced. Most are loath to raise taxes -- but some are doing so. The chosen way is to cut spending. This is beginning to impact the immigrant -- legal as well as undocumented. Massachusetts is proposing to exclude legal residents from its historic health insurance program -- despite the fact they are usually tax-payers. (See New York Times article.)

In California, land of the referendum, Nativists plan to introduce a measure that would end public benefits to the undocumented, challenge the citizenship of their U.S.born chikdren, cut welfare payments to them and impose new birth-cerificate requirements -- e.g., a note their parents are undocumented. A similar proposition won public support in 1996, but was struck down by the federal courts as against the 14th amendment. The fiscal crisis in California -- with a $26 billion short-fall, a squabbling state legislature, an increasingly unpopular governor, and a real unemployment rate of nearly 25% -- seems to create a favorable atmosphere for another try at passing a punitive anti-immigration measure. However successful itmay be in the voting booth, it still faces a stiff challenge in federal court. (See Los Angeles Times article.)

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