Will Racke, DCNF
Illegal immigrants and their children eat up $135 billion in public funds every year, according to a report that examines the fiscal impact of unauthorized immigration in the U.S.
The study, released Wednesday by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), is one of the most comprehensive analyses of the costs of illegal immigration to date. It concludes that illegal immigration is a “staggering and crippling” drain on the public treasury.
Governments at the federal, state and local levels spent a total of $134.86 billion on illegal aliens in 2016, according to FAIR estimates.
At the same time, tax contributions by illegal immigrants did not come close to offsetting expenditures. Governments at all levels collected just $18.97 billion in taxes from illegal aliens, meaning that illegal immigration was responsible for a net fiscal drain of $115.89 billion last year.
The net fiscal cost for 2016 was nearly $3 billion higher than the $113 billion cost in 2013. Over the last three years, the annual fiscal impact of illegal immigration has increased 2.6 percent, even as some experts say the total population of illegal immigrants has remained flat.
As the FAIR report notes, estimates of the costs of illegal immigration are largely dependent on determining the true number of unauthorized immigrants living in America. The nationwide illegal immigrant population was just over 11 million in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.
FAIR’s definition of illegal immigrant, however, is broader than the one used by Pew and other groups, which do not include the large population of unaccompanied minors, DACA recipients and others with temporary protected status. FAIR argues those groups should be included in the count because they only have a temporary reprieve to be in the U.S. but consume American taxpayer funds nonetheless.
As a result, FAIR estimates the U.S. is home to 12.5 million illegal aliens, plus their 4.2 million U.S. citizen children. Each one of those individuals accounts for $8,075 in taxpayer spending, FAIR says.
While illegal immigration and its costs are largely thought to be a federal problem, states and cities spend far more on illegal immigrants than Washington, according to the FAIR report. Illegal immigration costs state and local governments about $89 billion in 2016, almost twice the $45.8 billion in federal expenditures.
States and cities were particularly burdened by the cost of educating illegal immigrants and their children. Education expenditures ran up to just over $44 billion, half of all state and local spending on illegal immigration. As The Daily Caller News Foundation has previously reported, states with large illegal alien populations spend billions of extra dollars per year on special programs for students with limited English proficiency, a problem that persists across generations.
After education, states spent the most on health care and criminal justice, which cost $12.1 and $10.8 billion, respectively.
At the federal level, the lion’s share of spending on illegal immigrants came from health care expenses, including billions spent on Medicaid uncompensated hospital visits. Illegal immigration cost the U.S. government $17.1 billion in medical expenses in 2016, or about 37 percent of all federal outlays to illegal immigrants.
Read the full report here.
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