To understand fully the impact of what follows in my column, first read Navarrette's. [Schwarzenegger Defends Immigrants, by Ruben Navarrette, San Diego Union-Tribune, June 17, 2009]
But if you are pressed for time or simply cannot stomach the idea of reading more Navarrette tripe, here's a brief summary:
Where should I start?
Unless the Union-Tribune editors live in a bubble they, like every other Californian with eyes in his head, see the impact of illegal immigration all day every day.
In most if not all California cities, no one can walk down any street, shop at any supermarket, get medical treatment at any clinic, take his kid to any school, drive on any road or walk through any park without witnessing ample evidence of how pervasive illegal immigration is.
Here's a quick formula for calculating at least a part of California's illegal immigration costs. According to the Department of Education website, California schools had more than 1.5 million non-English speakers enrolled during 2007-2008. The same source indicates that more than 85 percent of them speak Spanish as their primary language.
Conservatively assume that one-third is made up of legal immigrants, one-third anchor babies and one-third illegal aliens. The estimated cost (again conservative) of educating each California student is $8,000 per year—not including special language classes that of course English learners would take.
One-third of 1.5 million is 500,000. Multiply 500,000 by $8,000 to arrive at a cost of educating illegal aliens at $4 billion per year.
If you want a more accurate total, remember that anchor babies are directly related to California's immigrant population then do your math again.
Two-thirds of 1.5 million is one million. Multiply one million by $8,000 and your revised total expenditure for educating immigrants is $8 billion—about two-thirds of the current total California deficit.
Yet according to Schwarzenegger (via Navarrette) I have "limited information" about "immigrants"
I can understand why Navarrette wants to keep beating his drum on behalf of illegal immigration. Navarrette no doubt anticipates that sooner or later an amnesty debate might occur in Congress. The more sympathetically he portrays illegal immigrants, the better their case may appear to his Capitol Hill audience.
But I don't get where Schwarzenegger or the Union-Tribune are coming from.
Politically, Schwarzenegger is toast. And unlike in some cases where, years later, California politicians are remembered with at least a modicum of kindness (think Richard Nixon) that will not be Schwarzenegger's case. Too many people, most prominently homeowners, have been scalded under his watch.
If you ask me, Schwarzenegger would be better off at least acknowledging the obvious: that illegal immigration adds significantly to the state's deficit and that he wishes he had used the substantial influence of his governor's office to do more to minimize it.
Schwarzenegger must be motivated instead by the thought that when he returns in 2010 to his Hollywood left wing friends, he'll be embraced for his staunch defense of illegal immigrants and Jews.
As for the Union-Tribune, after going on the market in July 2008 it was sold in March to Beverly Hills-based Platinum Equity, a private firm that specializes in troubled buy-outs. [Union-Tribune Sold to Platinum Equity, by Thomas Kuper, San Diego Union-Tribune, March 18, 2009]
Rumors are that Platinum Equity has no interest in continuing to publish the Union-Tribune but purchased it to acquire its substantial real estate holdings that include, according to San Diego County tax records, thirteen acres in Mission Valley as well as another half-acre in La Jolla. [The Copley Sale: Real Estate (and a Newspaper), by Bob Davis, Voice of San Diego, June 23, 2009]
At best, it appears that the Union-Tribune print edition will soon end and it will be available online-only, like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Maybe—given all of the gloomy news surrounding the Union-Tribune's fate and with new bosses on the scene who will likely cut jobs— the editors were too distracted to listen closely to what Schwarzenegger said or Navarrette wrote. (Commiserate with them here.)
What I know is this: to pretend that illegal immigration has no bearing on California's economic plight is so intellectually barren that if Schwarzenegger exits in disgrace or if the entire Union-Tribune editorial staff is fired, then "frankly, I don't give a damn."
Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.