The Joint Budget Committee is holding hearings today in an attempt to determine the true costs of providing services to illegal immigrants in Colorado. The special legislative session that starts tomorrow was called by Gov. Bill Owens to address the “emergency” issue of illegal immigration in our state, but if the costs to providing services aren’t really that bad, Republicans are going to be left with a lot of egg on their faces.
Last week the Bell Policy Center released two reports showing that providing services to illegal immigrants really doesn’t cost the state that much money when you include the rough amount of tax revenue that immigrants also generate (through things such as sales and property taxes). Owens admitted earlier in the week that he had no idea how much money providing services to illegal immigrants actually cost, and if the Joint Budget Committee uncovers figures that are similar to what the Bell Policy Center found, suddenly the whole purpose of the special session evaporates.
Republicans are hoping to use illegal immigration as a political tool to their advantage this November, and calling a special session was almost entirely a politically-motivated decision. Owens and other Republican leaders have defended their interest in illegal immigration, calling it an emergency issue that must be addressed immediately, but they didn’t do their research first. If it turns out that the whole issue isn’t the emergency they claim that it is, Democrats are going to be able to throw it right back in their faces and call them nothing more than political opportunists.
Republicans are probably hoping that the public isn’t paying attention to the facts, and they may be right, but the mainstream media isn’t likely to give the GOP a pass if it turns out that they were crying wolf.