COLUMBIA — Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell is calling for a national constitutional convention that would give states the right to deny benefits to illegal immigrants and have them forced out of the country.
It is an unprecedented move that would first require approval by the S.C. Legislature, then 33 other states would have to sign on, and 38 would be needed to approve a constitutional amendment.
"I don't know where else to go," McConnell, R-Charleston, said Thursday. "It's really an act of frustration. The state is bearing the burden because of the power failure in Washington.
"The constitutional amendment would say that if Congress continues to refuse to act, then states would have the ability to act in order to protect themselves and their pocketbooks."
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Speaking during a recent news conference at the National Press Club, a past economic advisor to former California Governor Pete Wilson says the five million illegal aliens living in California are having a devastating fiscal impact on the state. Dr. Philip Romero, a professor of business administration at the University of Oregon, found that for every dollar an illegal alien in California pays in taxes, they are absorbing $8 to $12 in taxpayer-funded services.
"When you multiply that per immigrant number by the number of illegal immigrants -- which as I said has tripled at least in the last dozen years -- you get numbers on the order $10 to $40 billion costs to state taxpayers," stated Romero. "To put that in [a] national perspective, if you did that same estimate at the national level, you'd probably be talking between $100 and $150 billion."
According to Romero, the current federal deficit is "on the same order of magnitude."
The economist also estimates that one out of every seven Californians is an illegal alien with an average skill level of only three years of education. He says this "underground" population consumes about 20 percent of the entire state budget.
"So as a result, through three main programs -- through healthcare for the indigent, Medicaid; through education; and through the criminal justice system -- [state taxpayers] are paying very substantially more for the services provided to those immigrants than the taxes the immigrants pay," he explains.
Romero is one of four contributors to a new report titled, "The Illegal Population Explosion." The report estimates that between 20 and 38 million illegal aliens are currently residing in the U.S.