The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads as follows: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution ... are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The Founders' concept of states' rights is worth defending, and that's why I support our neighbor to the south, Arizona, in its legal challenges to the federal government.
Earlier this month Arizona, in an effort to defend itself against an ongoing invasion of illegal immigrants, sued the federal government for failing to carry out their responsibility to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. Arizona filed its counter-suit after the Justice Department sued the state for attempting to control illegal immigration.
"The first and foremost issue we're facing right now is the security, safety and welfare of our citizens," said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. "The federal government needs to step up and do its job."
Yes it does, and since the respected Pew Hispanic Center estimates that 7.2 percent of Nevada residents (the highest percentage in the nation) are here illegally, we should be supporting our neighbors every step of the way. That's because illegal immigrants cost cash-strapped states billions of dollars in educational, medical, and law enforcement and court expenditures. For example, Clark County (greater Las Vegas) is reportedly spending more than $1 million a month to provide kidney dialysis services to illegal immigrants.
With Nevada unemployment approaching 15 percent, the federal government needs to take action against businesses that knowingly hire illegals. And if the feds can't or won't carry out their responsibility to police illegal immigration, we should do it ourselves. This issue should be a priority in the Nevada Legislature, currently meeting here in Carson City.
Illegal immigration advocates will cry "foul" and claim that illegals only take jobs that unemployed Americans won't do, like flipping burgers and cleaning bathrooms. Well, able-bodied Americans who refuse those jobs should lose their unemployment benefits. Simple.
The Pew Center estimates that Nevada's illegal population is approaching 200,000, too many of whom are involved in drug trafficking and/or violent gang activity in Carson City and elsewhere around the state. Arizona isn't the only state taking action against illegals. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Hispanic American like Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, recently issued an executive order requiring state and local police to check the immigration status of arrestees.
According to the Georgia Legislature, that state, home to 450,000 illegals, spends more than $1 billion per year on them in emergency medical care, K-12 education, and court and jail costs. So Nevada probably spends more than $400 million on illegal residents - tax dollars that could be better used to fund needed services, like public education, and reduce our state's huge budget deficit.
Arizona's lawsuit accuses Washington of failing to enforce federal immigration laws and failing to abide by the 10th Amendment. I hope Arizona wins this legal battle, thereby encouraging Nevada and other states to follow suit in defense of an amendment that guarantees states' rights in our republic.
• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, often writes about immigration issues.