Rules & Executive Nominations Committee, Maryland House of Delegates - Consideration of House Joint Resolution 10
Testimony Of Jack Martin
Special Project Director
Federation For American Immigration Reform
Good afternoon Chairman Harrison and Delegates,
I am Jack Martin, Special Projects Director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform. FAIR is a national, non-profit, public interest organization with thousands of members in Maryland among more than a quarter million members and activists nationwide. We have been working for more than 30 years to promote policies that will effectively combat illegal immigration, restore moderation to legal immigration, and reform our immigration laws to bring them into accord with the national interest.
The policies we support are aimed at assuring Americans that the foreigners they meet as tourists or students or refugees or guest workers should be received and welcomed as invited guests who have been screened by the federal government so that they represent no threat or unfair competition. That obviously is not possible as long as we have millions of illegal aliens living among us and more coming every day.
We estimate the illegal alien population in Maryland to be about a quarter of a million persons. On the basis of that estimate we calculate that illegal aliens and their children born here are a fiscal burden on the state and local jurisdictions of more than $1.7 billion per year. A small share of that fiscal impact is offset by tax collections from illegal workers, but the net fiscal burden is still nearly $1.7 billion per year. I have included a detailed breakdown of those estimated costs from our most recent fiscal cost study released in 2010.
With about 215,000 unemployed Marylanders and hundreds of thousands of citizens who work either part time because they can’t find full-time jobs or who have temporarily given up searching for a job, it is unconscionable that policymakers would not do all that they can do to free up jobs for legal workers that are currently held by illegal workers. Research has shown that the citizens who are most affected by job competition with illegal aliens are the most economically vulnerable, including teenagers and young adults who now are having the most difficulty in finding entry level jobs. The preponderance of evidence also shows that there are no “jobs that Americans won’t do.”
While the federal government has the primary responsibility for regulating immigration, states and local jurisdictions have certain inherent law enforcement powers as well as delegated powers that enable them to share responsibility with the federal government in programs designed to discourage the illegal arrival of foreigners, and to identify such persons for removal from the country by federal authorities.
Across the country constituents are encouraging their state legislators to adopt measures that discourage illegal immigration. At the same time, many employers and ethnic advocacy groups support policies that encourage illegal immigration by licensing illegal aliens drivers, recognizing foreign identity documents, and authorizing in-state tuition benefits not available to other foreign or U.S. students. Public opinion polls show the majority of Americans oppose these policies. That is no less true for Marylanders. A Washington Post poll taken in October 2007 among 1,103 adults in the state found that 85 percent of the respondents favored the state and local governments doing more to deal with illegal immigration. A majority of the poll respondents (53%) felt that they should do “a lot more.”
That is a public view that demands action. And, it accords directly with the purpose of Joint Resolution 10 in calling on state policymakers to do a lot more to reduce the negative impact of illegal immigration on the citizens of Maryland.
Combating illegal immigration is a long-term challenge that requires both national and local law enforcement. Sanctuary-style policies that interfere with local-federal cooperation hinder that effort and are a disservice to legal residents, whether U.S. or foreign born. It also works against what should be a priority of all us here today fostering a climate where Marylanders can welcome foreigners with open arms in the knowledge that they have been invited into the United States and should be treated as respected guests and potential future Americans.