The next time a friend or family member attempts to explain to you about the benefits cheap labor in the United States, you might want to refer to this handy-dandy document, provided by The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The comprehensive and easy to understand “Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on the American Taxpayer for 2017” document explains the extreme burden American taxpayers are saddled with, so employers can hire cheap labor, which in many cases, undercuts the ability for low-income Americans and students to compete for jobs.
Democrat lawmakers and businesses who benefit from low labor costs have been trying to convince Americans of the benefits of laxed security on our southern borders. In addition to allowing criminals to cross our borders with no background checks, there’s the massive financial burden on American workers that no one is talking about—except for organizations like FAIR, who are sounding the alarm bells over the cost of our broken immigration system.
Even in the absence of any complex studies, basic mathematics make it self-evident that illegal aliens are a drain on the U.S. economy. For example, in its report The Sinking Lifeboat: Uncontrolled Immigration and the U.S. Health Care System in 2009, FAIR found that, in some hospitals, as many as two-thirds of total operating costs are attributable to uncompensated care for illegal aliens. If those costs are being borne by American taxpayers, rather than the illegal aliens who received medical treatment, then those illegal aliens are consuming more services than they pay for, and the costs of providing those services are never recouped. That makes them a net drain on the economy.
A careful examination of the federal budget shows an annual outlay of approximately $46 billion for expenses related to illegal immigration. A review of state budgets indicates even greater local costs, estimated at $89 billion annually. This means that the overall costs attributable to illegal aliens totals an annual bill of $135 billion. That equates to over $8,000 per illegal alien and dependent, per year.
Some illegal aliens do pay certain taxes. However, employers usually hire illegal aliens to obtain cheap labor at wages well below the market rate for a given area. Many of those employers pay illegal aliens “under-the-table” and do not deduct payroll taxes. Due to their lack of immigration status, illegal aliens are unlikely to report their income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Therefore, state and local governments, as well as the federal government, are not collecting enough taxes from illegal aliens to cover the costs of the services they consume.
We estimate that illegal aliens actually pay just under $19 billion in combined state, local, and federal taxes. That means that the United States recoups only about 14 percent of the amount expended annually on illegal aliens. If the same jobs held by illegal aliens were filled by legal workers, at the prevailing market wage, it may safely be presumed that federal, state and local governments would receive higher tax payments.
FAIR firmly believes that the costs of illegal immigration (and massive legal immigration) significantly outweigh any perceived benefit. Accordingly, this study focuses only on calculating the overall costs of illegal immigration.
How Many Illegal Aliens Currently Reside in the United States?
Estimating the fiscal burden of illegal immigration on the U.S. taxpayer depends on the size and characteristics of the illegal alien population. FAIR defines “illegal alien” as anyone who entered the United States without authorization and anyone who unlawfully remains once his/her authorization has expired.
It is challenging to determine how many illegal aliens are present in the United States at any given time. The Department of Homeland Security only counts those foreigners who enter and leave the country through lawful channels. Those who deliberately evade immigration authorities and sneak across the border remain uncounted.
Once in the United States, most illegal aliens live in the shadows and interact with the government only on a very limited basis. Others commit ongoing immigration and identity fraud, claiming to be either green card holders or U.S. citizens. As a result, the U.S. government typically becomes aware of illegal aliens when they are encountered by state and local, or federal, law enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has no central database containing information on the citizenship status of everyone lawfully present in the United States.
Therefore it is often difficult for police, prison officials, and other enforcement entities to determine whether an individual they encounter is actually lawfully present in the United States, or whether that individual is falsely claiming to be here legally.
Why do illegal aliens, who are living in America create such a massive burden on the American taxpayer?
Here are just a few examples that FAIR has provided in their federal expenditures study:
Medicaid Births $1,242,990,372
After rising rapidly since the 1980s, births to illegal alien mothers dropped during the great recession (2008-2010). Since then, the numbers appear to have held relatively steady. Pew Research estimated that by the end of 2013, illegal alien mothers gave birth to approximately 275,000 children in the United States. In 2015 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), foreign-born mothers accounted for a disproportionate share of a nationwide total of about 3.98 million births: 872,256 or 22 percent of the total.
Medicaid paid for 45 percent of all births in 2010. 21 Presuming that Medicaid also paid for 45 percent of all births in 2015, it covered the costs for about 392,000 births to foreign-born mothers. The cost of those births is shared between the federal taxpayer and the state taxpayer. The total cost depends on the type of delivery and whether complications occur.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program $1,963,416,000
Colloquially referred to as “Food Stamps,” the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
is also administered by USDA-FNS. Illegal aliens are ineligible for SNAP but their U.S.-born children
are eligible. (In certain limited circumstances, elderly and disabled citizens residing with illegal alien relatives may qualify for SNAP benefits but they account for only a very small percentage of SNAP use by illegal alien households.)
The eligibility requirements for SNAP are based on household income. However, income earned by illegal alien parents is not used to calculate whether their U.S. citizen children qualify for the program. Accordingly, virtually all citizen children of illegal aliens qualify for SNAP.
Women Infants and Children $1,097,820,360
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, commonly known as “WIC,” provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income, pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
Eligibility for WIC is established by income. Currently, those earning 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or lower, are eligible to apply for this benefit. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, WIC served 53 percent of all infants born in the United States in 2013. WIC is available to anyone who is in the United States and falls within a WIC eligible category (i.e., pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding, infants under one year of age, and children under five years of age), is a full-time resident of the state where he/she is applying for WIC, meets the income requirements, and is at risk for malnutrition.
As a federally funded, state-administered program, each state is entitled to determine whether it will allow illegal aliens to draw WIC benefits. All fifty states have extended eligibility to illegal aliens.
A study by the Center for Immigration (CIS) studies found that approximately 35.1 percent of illegal alien households with children use the WIC program.53 Using a baseline of 4.0 million illegal alien households, this would indicate that approximately 1.4 million illegal alien households draw benefits under the WIC
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families $1,785,000,000
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is the current successor to the former Aid to Families with Dependent Children program. TANF was created to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency by providing temporary cash assistance to supplement their earned income.
In order to qualify, applicants must be either pregnant or responsible for a child under 19 years of age, meet income requirements, and be underemployed, about to become unemployed, or about to become unemployed. Recipients must be working or actively seeking employment; and, generally speaking, adults with dependent children receiving TANF must continue to meet financial and technical eligibility requirements.
Like SNAP, TANF is a welfare program that is not available to illegal aliens. However, illegal alien families that have U.S.-born children may still obtain significant financial assistance via this program. Certain TANF benefits are available to the U.S. citizen children of illegal aliens who are being cared for by grandparents, foster parents, aunts, and uncles. These are referred to as “child-only” applications.
Other ICE Operations $1,126,840,000
ICE is responsible for enforcing both civil and criminal immigration laws within the interior of the United States. Non-ERO ICE operations primarily involve detecting, arresting, and prosecuting lawfully present aliens who engage in criminal acts that violate the terms of their admission to the United States, as well as detecting, detaining, and criminally prosecuting illegal aliens involved in people smuggling, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and gun running. ICE is also responsible for enforcement of U.S. customs laws within the interior of the United States. As such, it handles some of the impost collection, licensing and enforcement duties that were handled by the U.S. Customs Service prior to the formation of DHS.
State Criminal Alien Assistance Program $210,000,000
The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) provides federal payments to states and localities that incurred correctional officer salary costs for incarcerating criminal illegal aliens who have at least one felony or two misdemeanor convictions for violations of state or local law, and who are incarcerated for at least 4 consecutive days during the reporting period. In the fiscal year 2016, Congress appropriated $210 million to fund the SCAAP program.
Federal Incarceration $1,240,000,000
The illegal alien population consists of both those aliens who entered the United States without authorization and those who entered the United States lawfully but overstayed their authorized period of stay. Illegal aliens are subject to removal from the United States simply because they are present in the United States without authorization. However, many illegal aliens come to the attention of DHS when they are arrested for the commission of a crime.
Legal aliens are also subject to deportation if convicted of certain crimes. Generally speaking, legal aliens tend to offend at a lower rate than illegal aliens. This is unsurprising since a significant percentage of illegal aliens cross the border without authorization specifically for the purpose of engaging in criminal costs associated with illegal immigration, this study can be assumed to underestimate the fiscal burden imposed on the U.S. taxpayer.
All calculations are based on the most recent data available. The majority of the data is drawn from sources covering the 2014, 2015, and 2016 fiscal years. Most of these statistics reflect the fiscal impact of immigration policies pursued by the Obama administration during its final years in office. Future studies should allow for a comparative examination of the economic effects of President Trump’s aggressive approach to immigration enforcement versus President Obama’s “alien rights first” approach.
This ONE graphic, prepared by FAIR, helps to explain the massive amount of money that is taken from the American taxpayer to keep fund the Democrat Party’s illegal alien program in America: