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Immigration hearing focuses on the cost of immigrants

How much illegal immigrants costs states and counties was the focus of Monday's immigration hearing in San Diego. It was the last of four immigration hearings House Republicans have held in the county this summer. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has details.

It was a rare moment of consensus in the highly contentious series of immigration hearings House Republicans are holding around the country. Participants from both parties agreed that illegal immigration is a financial drain on local governments. And Washington is to blame. Republican Representative Tom Davis from Virginia says cities are being forced to compensate.

Davis: "By one estimate the County of San Diego spends $50-million a year to arrest, prosecute and defend illegal immigrants. Of that, federal reimbursement covers only about $2 million."

But the agreement dissolved when State Democratic Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny suggested the net effect of immigrants may be positive.

The vast majority work everyday in this state building new homes and have made California the number one agricultural producer and exporter in our nation. They also serve food in our restaurants. You know, there are a lot of strong feelings in this room on both sides, but we'd like to be able to keep the decorum that's appropriate for a Congressional hearing and if we don't wel'll have to clear the room.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Kolender says the immigration debate cost his agency half a million dollars last year because he sent agents to monitor volatile protests. Among other things, he suggested more cooperation with Mexico would help stem the tide of illegal immigrants searching for higher paying jobs in the United States.

County Supervisor Bill Horn, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Michal Unzueta and two medical

The next hearing will be held in Georgia. Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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