My LTE Wherein I Crunch the Numbers

Letters To The Editor
Letters To The Editor

Here in my lovely Prince William County, we have a group of very vocal people complaining about “Illegal Immigrants.” These people complain about a lot of things in general, but immigrants are tops on their list. Our County Board of Supervisors, led by one Cory Stewart, have done what politicians in a democratically-elected government always seem to do – pander to the loudest.

Among other actions taken by our contenders for higher office, our County Board of Supervisors recently voted to cut off funding for county services to all “illegal immigrants” residing in Prince William County.

To hear the hysteria, we are spending millions upon millions of tax dollars pried away from honest hard-working Americans, paying for services sucked up by lazy south-of-the-border hordes of savages. No one seems to object to these lazy south-of-the-border hordes of savages cutting our grass, building our houses, bussing tables, and doing other menial work. They just can’t be sucking up our taxpayer services.

As a general trouble-maker and all-around smart-ass, I’ve been asking myself the question “How much do we actually pay for these services.” Surprisingly, despite all the hysteria over abuse of tax dollars, I’ve never seen this answer published in our local newspaper. So, I’ve finally stopped waiting, and worked it out myself using publictly available numbers. And today, I posted my results to the editors of The Potomac News.

With all the outrage over our tax dollars allegedly going to services for undocumented immigrants living in Prince William County, I had to ask the question: just how much money does it cost us to provide these services?

The Nov. 30 edition of this newspaper published an article which described county services that Corey Stewart and our County Board of Supervisors wish to deny to undocumented immigrants. According to the article, we offer eight county services that could be denied, which provide tax relief, services to the sick and elderly, help for homeless people and addiction treatment to juveniles and prison inmates. Last year these services cost $8.4 million and served 3,374 residents.

Based on 2005 census data, 18 percent of the population of Prince William County is Hispanic. Assume that two-thirds (for the sake of argument) are undocumented immigrants.

Therefore, 12 percent of our county services are used by undocumented immigrants.

So our county services are used by an estimated total of 405 undocumented immigrants at an estimated cost of $1.1 Million per year.

Using the 2005 census figure of 94,570 households (families) in Prince William County, this works out to $10.66 per family per year.

Never mind that requiring police to check the immigration status of people they detain will cost county taxpayers an estimated $2.84 million per year.

By denying county services to the poorest among us, our sick, our elderly, children and people trying to change their lives, we can save each taxpaying family in this county the cost of one pizza a year.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress’ Joint Economic Committee recently estimated that the tax bill for the Iraq war may ultimately cost every family in the United States $36,900.

I’ll make a deal with any resident of Prince William County who is opposed to paying taxes for county services for undocumented immigrants, but thinks our war in Iraq is a war worth fighting; I’ll pay your share of taxes for the county services if you pay my share of taxes for the Iraq war.

As always, I’ll update if this letter gets published.

Update, December 9: Published after a revision requested by The Potomac news Opinions Editor. He requested I shorten my letter to no more than 350 words (normal LTE policy) vice the 471 I originally submitted. The letter here is the shortened version ultimately published.

As much as I hate to admit it, being forced to keep my writing short and to the point is helping me learn to write more effective. This letter particularly, the shorted version is more powerful than my original submission.

Related Posts

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Some Thoughts On Immigration : My commentary on immigration, and having four immigrant grandparents.

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