Earlier this month at Washington, D.C.'s National Press Club the State Legislators for Legal Immigration, a coalition of legislators from 40 states, unveiled its strategy to end the policy of giving automatic citizenship to all children born in the United States regardless of their parents' immigration status.
Led by Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the organization timed its press conference with the 112th Congress' swearing in ceremony. The group hoped to send the message to Congress that it needs to seriously address one of illegal immigration's root causes, namely birthright citizenship.
Among developed western nations, as defined by the World Bank, only Canada and the United States still grant automatic citizenship at birth to anyone born on their soil.
Referring to possible legislation that would end birthright citizenship by requiring that at least one parent be either a citizen or a legal permanent resident, Metcalfe said: "According to the 14th Amendment, the primary requirements for U.S. citizenship are dependent on total allegiance to America, not mere physical geography. The purpose of this model legislation is to restore the original intent of the 14th Amendment, which is currently being misapplied and is encouraging illegal aliens to cross and cost American taxpayers $113 billion annually, or nearly $1,117 yearly per individual taxpayer."
Curiously, California is not among the 40 states represented among the concerned legislators. The state and its largest city, Los Angeles, have suffered fiscally and environmentally more than anywhere in America from the consequences of illegal immigration and legal citizen anchor babies.
According to the Department of Homeland Security's most recent available statistics, about 2.6 million illegal aliens live in California. In Los Angeles County, the nation's largest county with a population of 9.8 million, about 54 percent (5.3 million) speak a language other than English.
According to L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, in 2010 the "total cost for illegal immigrants to county taxpayers" was more than $1.6 billion including food stamps and benefits from CalWorks, a comprehensive welfare program.
Antonovich added that welfare benefits for the children of illegal immigrants (anchor babies) cost Los Angeles County more than $600 million last year, "not including the hundreds of millions of dollars for education."
Yet education is by far the most expensive illegal alien entitlement. For Antonovich to leave it out of his calculation is like omitting your monthly mortgage from your family expenses.
Had Antonovich included immigrant education costs, he could have added a staggering $3 billion to the taxpayers' tab.
The California Department of Education's website shows that K-12 schools included as part of Los Angeles County's districts had 410,000 non-English speakers enrolled during the 2009-2010 academic year. Nearly 90 percent (369,000) list Spanish as their native language.
The inescapable conclusion is that most Los Angeles County non-English speakers come from Mexico or Central America and are either illegal immigrants or their citizen children.
Using a conservative average annual cost of $7,500 per student, the estimated education dollar total for those illegal immigrants and anchor babies is $2.8 billion. Added to Antonovich's $1.6 billion welfare costs, the aggregate bill is $4.4 billion -- in Los Angeles alone! Statewide, the sum approaches a staggering $10 billion.
California is such a mess with its $25 billion deficit and 12.5 percent unemployment that ignoring the obvious costs associated with illegal immigration is folly. Cutting teacher salaries and closing libraries, as Gov. Jerry Brown proposes, won't eliminate a multi-billion dollar debt. But discouraging illegal immigration by eliminating one of its biggest magnets, automatic birthright citizenship, will.
Joe Guzzardi is a columnist and senior writer for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). He can be reached at JoeGuzzardi@CAPSweb.org.