On March 30 of this year, Republican runner Ted Cruz gave a speech at a GOP town hall meeting where he cited a Wall Street Journal article which claimed the state of Arizona, due to the passing of tough immigration laws, was spending hundreds of millions of dollars less on prisons, education, and hospitals for illegal residents of the state.
Cruz refers to the 2010 Arizona law which required the police to determine the immigration status of someone who is detained or arrested, if the officer had reasonable suspicion as to their legal status. After the law passed, thousands of illegal immigrants were reported leaving the state, which Cruz quotes the article as claiming a fiscal victory.
However, there is evidence that illegal immigrants began leaving the state even before the law passed as the recession began, reducing the amount in the state from 350, 000 in 2009 to 300,000 in 2012, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. What the article does say for sure is that it is impossible to separate the effects of the 2010 law from the recession as far as illegal immigrants leaving the state is concerned.
As for education costs, the article cites a marked reduction of students in English intensive course from 150,000 to 70,000, and the amount such schooling saves. However, said reduction cannot be attributed to illegal immigrants leaving the state, since enrollment in English intensive courses is not indicative of one’s legal status.
The prison statistics report a reduction in the amount of criminal aliens held in Arizona prisons, although criminal aliens include both legal and illegal immigrants, and the 11 percent decrease itself is small when considering the increase in per capita daily cost over the years.
Similarly, the reduction in health care costs for emergency care dedicated to illegal immigrants is impossible to directly correlate with changes in the law, since the recession also could have affected the availability of health care for all.
All in all, Cruz’s summary of the article is incomplete and not immediately or definitively indicative of the benefits of Arizona’s immigration reforms.