Illegal Immigrants Take Heavy Toll on East Tennessee

Editorial by Times-News

A relatively modest increase in the outgoing Bush administration's security effort on the U.S.-Mexico border and a moribund national economy have helped reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the country. That's good news, especially for workers with minimal skills, who suffer most when the business cycle turns down. The politically correct line on illegal aliens is that "they perform the jobs Americans just won't do." But U.S. workers on the bottom rungs of the nation's wage ladder know better.

When more people compete for menial jobs, salaries stagnate, or even drop. Conversely, when jobs outpace the available labor pool, pay rises. When it comes to illegal aliens, what doesn't seem to be declining are the crimes they commit, the harm they inflict on society, and the strain they place on law enforcement in communities large and small across America.

Recently in our region, Feliciano Morales Flores, 27, was arrested by Kingsport police and charged with the aggravated assault of his pregnant girlfriend and threatening her with a knife. At the time of his arrest, Flores told authorities he had been living in the city illegally for the past five years. In his possession were what police say was counterfeit identification - a Social Security card and a permanent resident card - which Flores admitted purchasing recently for just $2 apiece in nearby Morristown.

On the same day Flores was taken into custody, Bluff City police arrested Jesus Escalera-Amezcua, 20, of Pineola, N.C. His arrest grew out of a traffic collision on Highway 11-E in front of the Tri-Cities Flea Market. Escalera was initially cited for failure to yield to oncoming traffic, but further investigation revealed that he was operating a motor vehicle without a driver's license and driving an unregistered vehicle. Escalera, who told police he had resided illegally in the U.S. for the past year, was also charged for not having vehicle insurance and the illegal use of a license plate.

Those who advocate an open border approach with Mexico emphasize the work ethic of illegal aliens and chafe at the notion that they should be spoken of as lawbreakers simply because they desire to better themselves and their families. But jail logs here and elsewhere across the country are filled with the names of illegal aliens who have committed all manner of crimes from the petty to the truly heinous.

By several estimates, the overall effect of the criminal activities of illegal aliens in our midst is downright chilling. Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, has estimated that, based on prison records compiled by the federal government, murders by illegal aliens average 12 a day and another 13 people are killed by illegal aliens in motor vehicle crashes. To put those numbers in context, the total number of American military deaths in Iraq since the war began on March 19, 2003 stands at 4,209. If Rep. King's numbers are correct, illegal aliens have been responsible for a shocking 52,150 deaths in combined murders and traffic crashes over that same period.

Even if Rep. King's calculations are overstated by 50 percent, the carnage illegal aliens have caused in this country is more than six times greater than the total of all U.S. military deaths in Iraq. In 2005, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on a study of 55,322 illegal aliens incarcerated in federal, state, and local facilities during 2003.

The GAO found that those imprisoned illegal aliens collectively accounted for nearly 460,000 arrests - or approximately eight arrests per illegal alien. The GAO concluded that their arrests represented a jaw-dropping total of approximately 700,000 criminal offenses - or roughly 13 offenses per illegal alien. Despite the politically correct talk about the work ethic of illegals, statistics like those contained in unbiased government studies like that from the GAO show the largely ignored dark side of this phenomenon, one that we ignore at our peril.

Editorial Kingsport Times-News Jan 6, 2007

Also note illegal aliens are a main force behind the drug trade in the region. They also have driven up crime rates across the region as reported by the Times-News June 9th, 2009:

The Sullivan County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man and seized drugs, cars and a large amount of cash from a Kingsport residence. SCSO vice detectives went to 413 Mullins St., just after midnight in order to seize a car after an investigation that began in March when the SCSO started conducting several drug buys in response to information about alleged drug activity there, according to SCSO Chief Deputy Lisa Christian.

When they arrived, a strong marijuana smell coming from the residence prompted them to ask for permission to search it. When the occupants refused, vice officers returned with a search warrant. Officers found four grams of cocaine, 1.4-oz. of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and $10,787 in cash. The drugs and cash were seized along with a 2000 Chevrolet Malibu, 1998 Pontiac Grand Am, two flat screen TVs and several large tires and two rims.

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