- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2006

From combined dispatches

PHOENIX — Gov. Janet Napolitano has proposed spending $100 million in state money to fight illegal entry, including a crackdown on businesses that intentionally hire illegal aliens.

Arizona, the busiest illegal-entry point along the country’s southern border, serves as a hub for smugglers who transport illegal aliens across the country.

Mrs. Napolitano, a Democrat up for re-election in November, is also asking the federal government to pay for more National Guard troops along the state’s porous border.

“We are going to step up and protect our citizens when the federal government fails them — but this is a federal problem, and we expect the federal government to do its part,” Mrs. Napolitano told lawmakers on Monday, the opening day of the Legislature.

Mrs. Napolitano also has asked Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld to invoke a law allowing the federal government to pay Arizona to station National Guard troops at the border. The state already has about 170 National Guard troops at the border, assisting federal and state officers.

She said further details on her illegal-entry curbs will be provided next week when she releases her budget. When asked about her plan to fine companies who intentionally hire undocumented aliens, Mrs. Napolitano said she is working with a Democratic lawmaker on legislation.

Five months ago, Mrs. Napolitano followed a decision by Gov. Bill Richardson, New Mexico Democrat, in declaring a state of emergency along the Mexico border. The move freed up $1.5 million in disaster funds to help Arizona border counties stop illegal aliens.

The money is designated for the Arizona’s four border counties and the $1.5 million is part of $4 million set aside annually for disasters, such as fires or floods.

The counties will be eligible to apply for state money for a wide range of costs, from repairing border fences to paying for overtime for local law-enforcement agencies dealing with smuggling-related crime.

Even though illegal aliens provide the economy with cheap labor, Arizona and other border states shoulder huge health care and education costs for illegal aliens and their families.

Thousands gathered Monday in Phoenix to protest what they said was an anti-immigrant sentiment at the Legislature, which last year considered two dozen immigration proposals. Only a few became law.

Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl have introduced different bills to thwart illegal entry. Mr. Kyl’s bill would authorize 10,000 new Border Patrol agents and require millions of undocumented aliens to return to their countries after five years. The McCain bill would allow illegal aliens to stay in the United States if they pay a fine and participate in a guest-worker program.

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