Montanans vote this fall on Legislative Referendum 121 against illegal immigration that has national significance. If we approve LR 121, we will have demonstrated that even in "remote" Montana, citizens are concerned about the serious costs imposed on public budgets by illegal aliens living among us.
As described officially by our Attorney General's office, "LR-121 prohibits providing state services to people who are not U.S. citizens and who have unlawfully entered or unlawfully remained in the United States. Under LR-121, every individual seeking a state service, such as applying for any state licenses, state employment, unemployment or disability benefits, or aid for university students must provide evidence of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status, and/or have their status verified through federal databases."
Voting "for" on LR 121 is common sense, because it's best to discourage illegal immigration before it becomes overwhelming. Of course California comes first to mind, but now many other states such as New Jersey, Illinois and Georgia are burdened by multibillion-dollar annual costs from illegal immigration, according to comprehensive figures calculated by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Their results for Montana? The approximately 5,000 illegal aliens residing here cost Montana taxpayers about $30 million a year, a significant amount for our small-population state.
Those costs are net costs to state taxpayers after taking into account the modest state and local taxes that illegal aliens pay. A large fraction of such costs are from K-12 education for children of illegal aliens, and many of those children are U.S. citizens. But they wouldn't be here if their parents weren't here.
Few states have given their citizens the opportunity to vote directly on measures combating illegal immigration. So Montanans need to vote "for" on LR 121 and, thereby, set an example for our whole country.