June 11, 2006
I was heartened to read of the Missouri legislature’s approach to the issue of immigration in their state in Friday’s Kansas City Star. In light of the national debate, the state’s House of Representatives created a commission to investigate the actual impacts of immigration in their state. The results: “Illegal immigrants housed in Missouri prisons, receiving Medicaid benefits or enrolled in state colleges and universities aren’t that common.” According to the article, less than 2% of Missouri’s prison population is foreign-born, which includes U.S. citizens born abroad and legal and illegal immigrants. An even lower percentage have received Medicaid benefits: of 850,000 people in the state’s program, only 2,700 received benefits paid for by the state–a number that includes both legal and illegal immigrants, as well. The hearing led the commission’s chairman to state that, “knowing that illegal immigration isn’t having much of an impact on certain parts of state government makes it easier to pinpoint what changes are needed.” The report is a welcome dose of factual information in a time of political rhetoric and anti-immigrant myth. I urge Tennessee’s legislature to commission a similar study.