The Purpose of This Bl;og

By and large, liberals are very decent, kind, and compassionate people who genuinely want what is best. This should be kept in mind as we explore the Law of Unintended Negative Consequences near invariably resulting from Leftist big-hearted solutions to societal problems.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Illegal Immigration - Costs

What cost, if any, is there in having 11 to 12 million people living illegally in the U.S.?

In 2002, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) reported the following: "This study is one of the first to estimate the total impact of illegal immigration on the federal budget. Most previous studies have focused on the state and local level and have examined only costs or tax payments, but not both. Based on Census Bureau data, this study finds that, when all taxes paid (direct and indirect) and all costs are considered, illegal households created a net fiscal deficit at the federal level of more than $10 billion in 2002. We also estimate that, if there was an amnesty for illegal aliens, the net fiscal deficit would grow to nearly $29 billion." (See HERE)

Their findings include:
  • Households headed by illegal aliens imposed more than $26.3 billion in costs on the federal government in 2002 and paid only $16 billion in taxes, creating a net fiscal deficit of almost $10.4 billion, or $2,700 per illegal household.
  • Among the largest costs are Medicaid ($2.5 billion); treatment for the uninsured ($2.2 billion); food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches ($1.9 billion); the federal prison and court systems ($1.6 billion); and federal aid to schools ($1.4 billion).
  • With nearly two-thirds of illegal aliens lacking a high school degree, the primary reason they create a fiscal deficit is their low education levels and resulting low incomes and tax payments, not their legal status or heavy use of most social services.
  • On average, the costs that illegal households impose on federal coffers are less than half that of other households, but their tax payments are only one-fourth that of other households.
  • Many of the costs associated with illegals are due to their American-born children, who are awarded U.S. citizenship at birth. Thus, greater efforts at barring illegals from federal programs will not reduce costs because their citizen children can continue to access them.
  • If illegal aliens were given amnesty and began to pay taxes and use services like households headed by legal immigrants with the same education levels, the estimated annual net fiscal deficit would increase from $2,700 per household to nearly $7,700, for a total net cost of $29 billion.
  • Costs increase dramatically because unskilled immigrants with legal status -- what most illegal aliens would become -- can access government programs, but still tend to make very modest tax payments.
  • Although legalization would increase average tax payments by 77 percent, average costs would rise by 118 percent.
  • The fact that legal immigrants with few years of schooling are a large fiscal drain does not mean that legal immigrants overall are a net drain -- many legal immigrants are highly skilled.
  • The vast majority of illegals hold jobs. Thus the fiscal deficit they create for the federal government is not the result of an unwillingness to work.
  • The results of this study are consistent with a 1997 study by the National Research Council, which also found that immigrants' education level is a key determinant of their fiscal impact.
A more recent study (2010) by the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), concluded that : "the annual costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local level to be about $113 billion; nearly $29 billion at the federal level and $84 billion at the state and local level. The study also estimates tax collections from illegal alien workers, both those in the above-ground economy and those in the underground economy. Those receipts do not come close to the level of expenditures and, in any case, are misleading as an offset because over time unemployed and underemployed U.S. workers would replace illegal alien workers." (See HERE as quoted HERE)

 A statistical organization on illegal immigration (see HERE) summarized the findings:
  • $113,000,000,000 - This year's cost of US  illegal immigration. Approximately 75% of that cost is absorbed by the states.
  • $1117 - The average amount you and your family paid in taxes this year to support illegals.
  • $52,000,000,000 - The cost of educating the children of illegals. This is by far the single largest cost to the American taxpayer.
  • $2,700 - The average dollar amount a single illegal household costs the US federal government.
  • 51% - The percentage of Mexican immigrant households that use at least one major welfare program. 28% use more than one.
  • 1,400,000- The number of illegal immigrant households that use at least one major welfare program. (food stamps, WIC, school lunch programs, Medicaid, TANF, SSI, and/or public/rent-subsidized housing) - Source
For a quick breakdown of cost incurred by each state, see HERE.
Now, in light of these new findings, some people may argue that if we are losing hundreds of billions of dollars because of illegals, then why not legalize or document them and eliminate the problem?
While this seems to make sense on the surface, it ignores a number of factors noted in the 2002 study and elsewhere. For example, the Washington Post reported in May of 2013: "An exhaustive study by the Heritage Foundation has found that after amnesty, current unlawful immigrants would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay more than $3 trillion in taxes over their lifetimes. That leaves a net fiscal deficit (benefits minus taxes) of $6.3 trillion. That deficit would have to be financed by increasing the government debt or raising taxes on U.S. citizens." (See HERE)
So, not a good idea, though a LUNC just waiting to happen on the Left.
As staggering as these cost may be, they do not include various sociological and psychological costs, particularly to the undocumented residents, themselves, which in some respects may be more burdensome.
I am not just talking about the labor vacuum created in the "home" country, or the oft appalling conditions under which many illegals enter the U.S., or the stigma of being a so-called "wet back," or the exploitation by U.S. employers, or the constant and debilitating fear of being apprehended and deported and forced into "the shadows," as President Obama aptly put it, or going without necessities for want of finances or fear of detection, or socio-political strains put on newly formed friendships and loving relations in observing the challenges to immigrants and anguishing over solutions,  (See HERE and HERE and HERE)

There is also the oft unnoticed, yet profound impact on the young children of illegals, and this beyond their exposure to the culture of illegality. They are thrust into school conditions where they must compete with fellow students who aren't hampered with language and socio-economic barriers and educational deficits, which unavoidably puts them at a significant disadvantage. Consequently, too many are misdiagnosed with learning disabilities, and thought of as mentally handicapped (I witnessed this personally while teaching Special Ed.), and either retreat into silent isolation or act out. Is it any wonder, then, that there is a disproportionately higher rate of school dropouts and gang presence among Hispanics? (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE)

The staggering financial costs also don't include other intangible expenses to the host country. The Heritage Foundation explains: "Typical illegal aliens come to America primarily for better jobs and in the process add value to the U.S. economy. However, they also take away value by weakening the legal and national security environment. When three out of every 100 people in America are undocumented (or, rather, documented with forged and faked papers), there is a profound security problem. Even though they pose no direct security threat, the presence of millions of undocumented migrants distorts the law, distracts resources, and effectively creates a cover for terrorists and criminals. in other words, the real problem presented by illegal immigration is security, not the supposed threat to the economy. Indeed, efforts to curtail the economic influx of migrants actually worsen the security dilemma by driving many migrant workers underground, thereby encouraging the culture of illegality." (See HERE)

And, this doesn't factor in the sizable criminal element among illegals. As mentioned in an earlier post, of the 850,000 or so illegals who entered the country in 2012, and the 650,000 who left the country (either by force or choice), almost 200,000 were criminals--199,445. (See HERE, table 41) This means that between a quarter to a third of illegals who entered the country in 2012, have committed crimes, and this doesn't even account for the illegals in prison (they represent 11% of the prison population). (See HERE)

I could go on, but hopefully the point has already been made. The Leftists LUNC here is the enormous real and hidden costs from the liberal immigration policy of "benign neglect." (ibid.)

For an explanation as to why these Leftist LUNCs may occur, please see: Gov: Wrong Tool for the Right Job - Introduction and Cold Nanny as well as The Politics of Compassion, Emotions, Ignorance, Denial, Blame-Shifting, Equality, and Victimization

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