Will Racke, DCNF
American taxpayers were on the hook for more than $2 billion in government spending to cover the cost of births to illegal immigrant mothers, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data released Tuesday.
The report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) estimates that illegal immigrants gave birth to 297,000 children in 2014, or 7.5 percent of all births in the U.S. that year.
A large share of births to unauthorized immigrant women are publicly funded through Medicaid, which covers the cost of delivery in almost all cases if the mother is uninsured or has a low income. Using average birth cost estimates and uninsured rates among immigrant women, the CIS report determined that taxpayers shelled out roughly $2.4 billion to pay for births to illegal immigrants.
Births to illegal immigrant women have significant fiscal policy implications because 67 percent of new mothers in the U.S. illegally are uninsured or on Medicaid, according to CIS research director Steven Camarota.
“Paying for so many births to immigrant mothers may make sense, but the large share who can’t provide for themselves without the help of American taxpayers raises the question of whether our current immigration system makes sense,” Camarota told the Washington Examiner.
California and Texas, the states with the two largest illegal immigrant populations, had the most births to women living in the U.S. illegally by a wide margin. There were 65,000 babies born in 2014 to illegal immigrant women in California and 51,000 in Texas. Florida was a distant third with 16,000.
About three-fourths of births to illegal immigrants in Texas were likely paid for by taxpayers, according to the CIS report. In California, the share of publicly funded births to unauthorized immigrants was about two-thirds.
Overall, about 429,000 publicly funded births were to a legal or illegal immigrant — roughly one-fourth of all taxpayer-funded births in the country. Illegal immigrants accounted for 198,000 — 11 percent — of all publicly funded births, while legal immigrants accounted for another 231,000, or 13 percent.