The debate over illegal immigration often is clouded with the question of whether illegal immigrants are a net economic benefit or cost to society. This is often amplified by the leftist when he says “these people do the jobs Americans won’t do,” which has often struck me as rather demeaning of both the immigrant and the American – not to mention being ridiculous.
As someone who lives in Texas and has dealt with the illegal population first hand – in both a personal and professional capacity – my belief is that it is critically important we remember that these are human beings, each with his own story, the vast majority of whom are good people looking for a better way of life in America.
But it is neither good for America nor good for immigrants, legal or illegal, for our country to abandon the rule of law and to continue to absorb the cost of illegal immigration. Now, of course, it is a difficult calculation – having to take into account various taxes paid vs. all services consumed, and basing that on an unknown number of people here illegally. But the good folks at FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) have issued a report estimating that the net cost of illegal immigration to the American taxpayer is approximately $100 billion.
According to the FAIR press release, the report, entitled “The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on U.S. Taxpayers,” offers the following:
* The $113 billion in outlays for services and benefits to illegal aliens and their families represents an average cost to native-headed households of $1,117 a year. Because the burdens of illegal immigration are not evenly distributed, the costs are much higher in states with large illegal alien populations.
* Education for the children of illegal aliens represents the single largest public expenditure at an annual cost of $52 billion. Nearly all of that cost is absorbed by state and local governments.
* The federal government recoups about one-third of its share of the costs of illegal immigration in the form of taxes collected. States, which bear a much greater share of the costs, recoup a mere 5 percent of their expenditures from taxes paid by illegal aliens.
* Granting amnesty to illegal aliens, as President Obama and others propose, would not significantly increase tax revenues generated by current illegal aliens. However, over time, amnesty would dramatically increase public costs as newly-legalized aliens become eligible for all means-tested government programs.
* Arizona’s annual cost of illegal immigration is $2.5 billion.
To ignore the cost of illegal immigration is to ignore the fundamental problem itself. It is real, and hiding behind nonsensical rhetoric and glib one liners about who will do what job only makes the situation worse for everyone involved. Good for FAIR for trying to sort through this problem.