The True Costs of Illegal Immigration Will Shock You

The cost associated with harboring illegal immigrants in the United States is a staggering $113 billion a year — an average of $1,117 for every “native-headed” household in America — according to a study conducted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

The study, a copy of which was provided to Project Republic, “is the first and most detailed look at the costs of illegal immigration ever done,” says Bob Dane, director of communications at FAIR, a conservative organization that seeks to end almost all immigration to the U.S.

Granted, the study is a few years old now, with one revision, it has not got any better.

FAIR’s opponents in the bitter immigration debate describe the organization as “extremist,” though it is regularly called upon to testify before Congress.

Groups that support immigration reform immediately attacked FAIR’s report and pointed out that it is the polar opposite of the Perryman Report, a 2008 study that found illegal immigration was actually a boon to the American economy. It estimated that illegal immigrants add $245 billion in Gross Domestic Product to the economy and account for 2.8 million jobs.

The FAIR report comes as President Obama moves immigration reform to the top of his agenda, and it is likely to be a rallying point for those who oppose the president. At a speech Thursday at American University in Washington, D.C., Obama argued that the entire immigration system is broken and needs sweeping reforms. Among the changes he said are needed is “a path for [farm] workers to earn legal status,” which the president’s critics called an opening for a new amnesty program.

FAIR’s report argues that there are two choices in the immigration debate: “One choice is pursuing a strategy that discourages future illegal migration and increasingly diminishes the current illegal alien population through denial of job opportunities and deportations. The other choice,” it says, “would repeat the unfortunate decision made in 1986 to adopt an amnesty that invited continued illegal migration.”

The Study:

USCostStudy_2013upd

This report estimates 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.

Key Findings

  • Illegal immigration costs U.S. taxpayers about $113 billion a year at the federal, state and local level. The bulk of the costs — some $84 billion — are absorbed by state and local governments.
  • The annual outlay that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers is an average amount per native-headed household of $1,117. The fiscal impact per household varies considerably because the greatest share of the burden falls on state and local taxpayers whose burden depends on the size of the illegal alien population in that locality
  • Education for the children of illegal aliens constitutes the single largest cost to taxpayers, at an annual price tag of nearly $52 billion. Nearly all of those costs are absorbed by state and local governments.
  • At the federal level, about one-third of outlays are matched by tax collections from illegal aliens. At the state and local level, an average of less than 5 percent of the public costs associated with illegal immigration is recouped through taxes collected from illegal aliens.
  • Most illegal aliens do not pay income taxes. Among those who do, much of the revenues collected are refunded to the illegal aliens when they file tax returns. Many are also claiming tax credits resulting in payments from the U.S. Treasury.