Last Sunday in Tucson, Arizona, an illegal immigrant with no driver's license or identification was pulled over for a routine traffic stop.

The incident attracted a crowd, and police and border patrol officers soon found themselves in the middle of a full-blown protest. Two female protesters showed their obstinacy by crawling underneath a vehicle, and amid insults, police had to forcibly remove the women by pulling them out by their legs.

As long as this nation is without comprehensive immigration reform, we can expect these incidents to escalate. Over 8 million illegal immigrants live in the U.S., and some estimates are much higher. Even our Department of Homeland Security admits to having lost track of a million people who have entered this country.

As one critic said, we have made coming into this country through the front door difficult, but the back door is left completely wide open.

Here's what the law says: "Any citizen of any country other than the United States who: Enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers; or eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers; or attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact; has committed a federal crime."

The violations are punishable by criminal fines and imprisonment for up to six months, and repeat offenses can bring up to two years in prison. So why aren't more lawbreakers being prosecuted?

Politics has much to do with it. The present administration has gone so far as to sue individual states such as Arizona that have tried to crack down on illegal immigration.

William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, said the president's 2012 executive memo that softens deportation guidelines for some young illegal immigrants is "a welcome mat that is a complete breach of existing law."

The fact that illegal immigration is draining our economy should concern every American since taxpayers are paying the tab. It's estimated that taxpayers spend $12 billion a year on primary and secondary school education for the children of illegal immigrants. Given the latest influx of 55,000 children from Central American who have entered the U.S. since this spring, that figure will be escalating.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Washington has to address the "root causes" of the immigration issue, which has reached crisis status. He adds that Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has said the ambiguities in U.S. law have resulted in human traffickers persuading families to hire them to deliver their children from their violent neighborhoods.

Rubio is correct in saying we must attack the root causes. Without comprehensive immigration reform and giving law enforcement the tools needed secure the border, the immigration crisis will only worsen, and at taxpayers' expense.

By JIM ZBICK

tneditor@tnonline.com