Arnold Schwarzenegger`s Rise And Immigration-Related Fall
“Lots of folks back
East, they say, is leavin` home every day,
Beatin` the hot old
dusty way to the
`Cross the desert
sands they roll, gettin` out of that old dust bowl,
They think they`re
goin` to a sugar bowl, but here`s what they find —
Now, the police at
the port of entry say,
fourteen thousand for today.`
“You want to buy
you a home or a farm, that can`t deal nobody harm,
Or take your
vacation by the mountains or sea.
Don`t swap your old
cow for a car, you better stay right where you are,
Better take this
little tip from me.
`Cause I look
through the want ads every day
But the headlines
on the papers always say:
“If you ain`t got
the do re mi, boys, you ain`t got the do re mi,
Why, you better go
back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia,
“California is a
of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or
not, you won`t find it so hot
If you ain`t got
the do re mi.”
As I look back at Guthrie`s song seventy years later, I find
that it`s filled with irony.
And the illegal alien influx has made things extremely “hot”
for one particular Californian even though he has plenty of
“do re mi.”
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, his political career in
tatters, will not be remembered of as Hollywood`s
greatest action hero. Instead, historians will look back at
him as the governor who presided over California biggest
financial crisis that may mark the Golden State`s official end.
As quickly as Schwarzenegger`s political star rose, it plunged
just as fast.
In 2003, angry, disgusted Californians collected enough
signatures to force a special election to recall then-governor
The election put the popular Schwarzenegger in Sacramento
because movie fans loved him and disenchanted voters believed
his empty promise to once and for all reform the state`s
years ago, I was one of
125 ballot recall candidates who opposed Davis and
Schwarzenegger. As I look back on it, I can say without fear of
contradiction that I could easily have managed the state more
effectively than Schwarzenegger.
Stated more modestly, no one could have done worse.
I ran on a
straightforward platform: end illegal immigration,
reduce legal immigration significantly and thereby lessen
California`s financial obligation to provide education,
medical care and sundry other financial services to the
Even though many considered my quixotic campaign
I received a surprising amount of positive print media coverage,
Internet blogs as well as on talk radio and television. And
end, I finished in
the middle of the pack—not
bad given my limited pocketbook. Most Californians spend
more on their home entertainment system than I did running for
Although Schwarzenegger comfortably won the election, patriots
remained cautiously optimistic that the Austrian-born, legal
immigrant would bring a common sense perspective about
immigration with him to Sacramento. Sadly, our hopes were
During the first years of his administration, Schwarzenegger
But ultimately, Schwarzenegger caved into California`s Hispanic
Caucus and reverted to Davis` immigrant pandering, insisting
against all logic that illegal aliens who live in California
don`t have a negative impact on the states` financial condition.
Before long, Schwarzenegger presided over a
$40 billion budget deficit,
increased spending to levels 40 percent above the notorious
spending- crazed Davis, watched California`s unemployment rate
to 10.1 percent to become the
nation`s fourth-highest while watching the state`s bonds`
rating sink to an all-time low.
Bond Rating Drops Lower Than Any Other State, by Jordan
Rau and Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, February 9,
But on immigration, Schwarzenegger completely miscalculated the
ultimate price tag. In 2004,
wrote here that California budget problems,
by unchecked immigration, were a “smoldering volcano.”
But the volcano`s force exceeded my wildest dreams.
According to the California`s non-partisan fiscal policy
Legislative Analyst`s Office, here`s a rough conservative
hard dollar estimate of what Californians pay to foot
Schwarzenegger`s passive attitude toward illegal immigration.
immigrants are doing stretches in state prisons,
representing 11 percent of all inmates. California absorbs about
$1 billion in direct expenses while receiving about $120 million
federal funds thus leaving an $880 million net cost to the
Although Illegal immigrants aren`t entitled to welfare, called
their citizen children are. Roughly 190,000 kids receive
welfare checks that pass through their parents. The
Legislative Analyst`s Office put the tab conservatively at
California spends $775 million on Medi-Cal
healthcare for illegal immigrants, according to the
Legislative Analyst. Of that, $642 million goes into direct
benefits. Practically all the rest is paid to counties to
administer the program. The federal government generally matches
the state dollar-for-dollar on mandatory programs.
emergency services are another huge cost: $536 million.
Prenatal care alone is $59 million. Omitted from the overall
total expense is
delivery—well over $100 million—because the newborns are,
technically, American citizens, not illegal immigrants.
California also pays $47 million for programs not mandated by
the federal government including non-emergency care (breast and
treatment), $25 million; long-term nursing home care, $19
million; abortions, $3 million.
illegal aliens is the single biggest California taxpayer burden.
calculated that of California`s 1.5 million non-English
speakers attending K-12 schools, about 500,000 are illegal
aliens and another 500,000
anchor babies. Depending on how you interpret anchor babies,
the state`s education tab for aliens is either $3.5 billion or
Of course, Californians underwrite scores of other alien-related
expenses especially those paid out through
But you get the multi-billion- dollar picture, I`m sure, without
my providing you with more details.
Sure, when aliens work, they pay state taxes. Yet illegal aliens
are, by virtue of their income, modest spenders. Their biggest
contribution to the state`s revenue stream is sales tax. But
food and prescription drugs—the two biggest ticket items—are
Immigrants Are A Factor in California`s Budget Math, by
George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, February 2, 2009]
If only Schwarzenegger could have summoned up the guts to tackle
the illegal immigration crisis!
it is true that for the most part, immigration is a federal
issue, think of the impact Schwarzenegger could have had if he
had taken a bold—and defensible— position on behalf of his
constituents by calling for dramatically reduced immigration
levels. A California governor, particularly a high visibility
figure like Schwarzenegger, has political clout—doubly so within
celebrity-loving Capitol Hill crowd.
Imagine this could-have-been headline: “California`s
Immigrant Governor Demands Less Immigration!”
Who knows? Maybe Schwarzenegger`s
none-too-coy interest (with a little help from a
Constitutional amendment) in becoming the first foreign-born
president may have gathered momentum.
But now Schwarzenegger`s political career is
dead as a doornail.
my own political aspirations, I`ve moved away from
California to Pennsylvania and have no active plans to get back
into the arena.
With immigration much more prominent on the
nation`s radar screen today than it was in 2003—even in
Pennsylvania—it`s up to some courageous but as yet
unidentified candidate to knock Casey and Specter out of office.
To him, I pass the baton!
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