Idaho must stop funding handouts for illegal immigrants

By Niklas Kleinworth

Few Idahoans are aware that the Gem State is fueling illegal immigration. Idaho’s expanding welfare state and “look the other way” policies create a ripe environment for attracting those who shouldn’t be here.

Recently, a viral video surfaced on social media purporting to show migrants getting off a bus in West Boise. To date, there is no confirmation those on the bus were illegals but it kicked off a heated debate over how the immigration crisis is affecting Idaho.

One organization at the center of the controversy is a group known as Jannus. The organization oversees several smaller subsidiaries that address various issues ranging from veterans’ services, childhood nutrition, suicide prevention, and immigration.

Its business model features lobbying for new, expanded government programs, then offering one of its subsidiaries as a nonprofit third party contractor to administer those very programs.

The organization is decidedly leftist — boasting a commitment to “fostering diversity, equity and inclusiveness.”

Through the Agency for New Americans and the Idaho Office for Refugees, among others, Jannus works to get refugees plugged into the government system. This highlights an important issue: assimilation to American culture is made more about grabbing government handouts than integrating with the community and seeking independence.

We cannot be certain that Jannus’ operations, specifically, are driving illegal immigration to the Gem State. But the overarching welfare culture allows illegal immigrants to take advantage of taxpayer-funded programs.

Some government handouts overlook immigration status in the application process, or are silent on the subject. Federal agencies are even seeking to expand this practice to more programs, constructing their own ignorance to circumvent the law.

The Idaho Legislature could have addressed part of this issue in the 2024 session through House Bill 615. This legislation would have banned illegal immigrants from accessing certain taxpayer subsidized services like free healthcare, housing, and nutrition programs.

Stakeholders decried the potential for denying benefits like government-provided — read taxpayer funded — medical care, vaccines, and food assistance to this population. This pressured moderates to kill the bill in committee. Meanwhile, Idaho taxpayers are still funding illegal immigration through these programs.

Some suggest immigration, generally, is a net benefit to America. But the importation of new members to a welfare state that already cannot support citizens is harmful to all Idahoans, new or native, legal or illegal.

Further, illegal immigration fails to even benefit the immigrants themselves. Their dependence on government programs means they gave up their lives in their native countries for an America devoid of its defining characteristic — liberty. Additionally, the employers hiring these immigrants are taking advantage of their status living in the shadows of our society. Funding illegal immigration with socialist programs only supports this injustice.

Idaho families should not stand for funding illegal immigration to the Gem State. These policies are akin to those ravaging leftist dystopias like California and only incentivize illegals to come to our state.

Solutions must involve permanent policy change at the state and federal levels. At the state level,  Idaho legislators should revisit the concepts within House Bill 615 when they reconvene next year. This would prevent Idaho from voluntarily funding additional programs and services for those who never should have been here in the first place.

At the federal level, nothing short of a change in administration could correct the issue. The Biden administration recently enacted an executive order to stem the surge of migrants at the southern border but it still allows an average of 2,500 illegal aliens to cross into the United States each day. This policy also fails to address any of the migrants who are unlawfully present in the United States, already.

Idahoans shouldn’t stand for allowing their tax dollars to fund welfare for illegals, especially when they are already struggling to afford to put food on their tables and fill up their gas tanks. Idaho must stop contributing to this government dependency.

Niklas currently serves as the policy director at the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a public policy think tank located in the state capital of Boise. There, he specializes in data analysis and public policy research that focuses on healthcare, science, technology, and finance. He is an advocate for public policy solutions that are fiscally efficient, limit government, and expand the free market. In his free time, you can find him reading, hiking, mountain biking, and trap shooting with his beautiful wife and daughter.

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