Immigration to Arizona
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Between 1990 and 2000, Arizona experienced a 40% increase in population. Between 2000 and 2006, the population further increased by 20.2 percent, bringing its total population to approximately 6.7 million. In 2006 Arizona increased by 3.6 percent, making it the fastest growing state in the nation. 2006 population estimates indicated that Arizona had the fifth largest increase in population in the United States.
Immigration to Arizona
The increase in Arizona's foreign-born population accounted for 26% of the state’s overall population growth during the 1990s. Foreign-born residents now account for 13% of the state’s total population. Arizona’s foreign-born population increased 136% during the 1990s, making it the ninth largest percent increase in the country. Between 1990 and 2000, Arizona gained almost 380,000 immigrants. This immigrant influx increased the total number of foreign-born residents in the state to over 650,000. According to the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare association, providing care to illegal immigrants costs Arizona hospitals approximately $150 million annually. At least one hospital in Arizona has filed for bankruptcy and is in danger of closing due to uncompensated care for undocumented immigrants. As a solution to the millions of dollars these facilities are uncompensated for hospital administrators of the University Medical Center in Tucson Arizona, are reporting uninsured immigrants who do not pay their medical bills to immigration officials. In one four-month period in 2003, UMC incurred $3.3 million in immigrants’ unpaid bills. At least three Arizona hospitals are sending bill collectors into Mexico to try to obtain payments.
Illegal Immigration to Arizona
Arizona has the sixth largest number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. Approximately 283,000 illegal aliens are believed to reside in Arizona as of 2000, according to USCIS figures. This estimate is 146% higher than the previous USCIS estimate in 1996, and 222% higher than the estimate for 1990. The Arizona border with Mexico is a popular point for illegal crossings. In fact, Tucson, Arizona has had the most illegal alien arrests in the U.S. in recent years. 450,000 people were arrested by Border Patrol agents for crossing the border illegally in 2001. Reportedly, some residents are so fearful of alien smugglers that they avoid going out alone at night. According to the Cochise County sheriff, problems associated with illegal immigration cost residents 37 cents of every tax dollar they pay. Cochise County is a border town in Arizona, and shares 84 miles of border with Mexico. The medical treatment of illegal immigrants accounts for about ten percent of the county’s health department budget. Arizona authorities requested compensation of $41 million from the federal government in 1999 for the incarceration of illegal aliens in state and local jails and prisons (under the federal State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, or SCAAP). However, only $16 million was received, leaving $25 million in uncompensated costs to be borne by Arizona taxpayers.
Statistical numbers on immigration (legal and illegal) to Arizona:
- Foreign-born residents now account for 13 percent of the state’s total population.
- More than 500,000 illegal immigrants are believed to be living in Arizona.