Is illegal immigration an economic burden to America?
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a nonprofit organization pushing for immigration reform, posted the following position on its website, www.fairus.org, in a section entitled "The Estimated Cost of Illegal Immigration," last updated in Feb. 2004:
"Illegal alien workers may increase
profits for employers, but they are costly to the American taxpayer.
Most illegal aliens have low educational attainment, few skills, and
they work for low wages, often in the underground economy where they pay
no taxes on their earnings... While the cost of outlays for illegal
aliens may be shifted by legislation among the levels of government and
the private sector, the fact remains that illegal immigration creates
an enormous fiscal burden on America and its citizens - a burden that
Congress has levied upon us through short-sighted and haphazard
immigration policy and succeeding administrations have aggravated by
spotty enforcement of the law."
The Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform (CAIR), a nonprofit organization concerned with immigration issues, in the section titled "Economic Costs of Legal and Illegal Immigration" on its website, www.cairco.org (accessed June 22, 2010), wrote the following:
"The economic and
social consequences of illegal immigration... are staggering... Illegal
aliens have cost billions of taxpayer-funded dollars for medical
services. Dozens of hospitals in Texas, New Mexico Arizona, and
California, have been forced to close or face bankruptcy because of
federally-mandated programs requiring free emergency room services to
illegal aliens. Taxpayers pay half-a-billion dollars per year
incarcerating illegal alien criminals. Immigration is a net drain on the
economy; corporate interests reap the benefits of cheap labor, while
taxpayers pay the infrastructural cost... $60 billion dollars are earned
by illegal aliens in the U.S. each year. One of Mexico's largest
revenue streams (after exports and oil sales) consists of money sent
home by legal immigrants and illegal aliens working in the U.S... This
is a massive transfer of wealth from America - essentially from
America's displaced working poor - to Mexico. The total K-12 school
expenditure for illegal immigrants costs the states $7.4 billion
Jim Gilchrist, MBA, Founder and President of The Minuteman Project, in an Aug. 26, 2005 speech titled "The Crushing Economic Burden of Illegal Immigration" and delivered at an immigration conference in Beverly Hills, CA [transcript made available on Oct. 10, 2005 in FrontPageMagazine.com], said:
"I’ve tried to figure out the costs since I have this tax background. What is the cost to each of us as taxpayers to support 30 million illegal aliens, many of whom are working in the underground economy and not contributing to the tax system? And yet they’re using the system that bona fide taxpayers provide and pay for... I had to make my own estimate, since the government will not give me these numbers, nor does it care to calculate them... I’ve come up with my own numbers. And I will stand by these numbers. The annual gross cost to U.S. taxpayers to provide schooling, hospitalization, and whatever plethoric benefits are out there for the 30 million illegal aliens is approximately $400 billion per year funded by bona fide US taxpayers. That’s $400 billion per year and going up."
Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalists, wrote in their Sep. 20, 2004 special report on immigration titled "Who Left the Door Open?," published in Time:
"Beyond the terrorism risks,
Washington's failure to control the nation's borders has a painful
impact on workers at the bottom of the ladder and, increasingly, those
further up the income scale. The system holds down the pay of American
workers and rewards the illegals and the businesses that hire them. It
breeds anger and resentment among citizens who can't understand why
illegal aliens often receive government-funded health care, education
benefits and subsidized housing.
communities, the masses of incoming illegals lay waste to the landscape
and create costly burdens for agencies trying to keep public order.
Moreover, the system makes a mockery of the US tradition of
encouraging legal immigration. Increasingly, there is little incentive
to play by the rules."
Steven A. Camarota, PhD, Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies, in an Oct. 23, 2005 Arizona Republic article titled "Use Enforcement to Ease Situation," wrote:
[I]llegal aliens create significant costs for
taxpayers mainly because they are unskilled, not because they are
illegal. At least 60 percent lack a high school diploma. Such people pay
relatively little in taxes regardless of legal status because they earn
so little in the modern American economy. My research indicates that
the net fiscal drain (taxes minus costs) would triple if we legalized
illegals. Unskilled illegal aliens are costly, but unskilled legal
immigrants cost even more because they can more easily access social
Jim Kouri, MA, Vice-President of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, in a Mar. 21, 2006 NewsWithViews.com article titled "The Big Govn't. Lie: Illegal Immigration Benefits Americans," wrote:
"Even though illegal aliens make
little use of welfare, from which they are generally barred, the costs
of illegal immigration in terms of government expenditures for
education, criminal justice, and emergency medical care are significant.
Californian officials have
estimated that the net cost to taxpayers in order to provide government
services to illegal immigrants approached $3 billion during a single
The fact that states must bear the cost of federal
failure turns illegal immigration, in effect, into one of the largest
unfunded federal mandates existing today."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), wrote the following information on its website, www.aclu.org, in a Mar. 12, 2002 section titled "Immigrants and the Economy":
for the nation's woes has long been an American pastime, especially in
hard economic times like today. Recently, there has been an upsurge in
anti-immigrant sentiment, particularly in areas of the country that host
large number of immigrants. Public opinion surveys indicate that the
public does draw a distinction between legal and undocumented
immigrants, and that the public regards undocumented immigrants with
One of the most
well-entrenched myths about immigrants is that they steal jobs from
American workers, collect an excess of government benefits and in
general represent a drain on the economy. Contrary to popular belief,
immigrants do not take away jobs from American workers. Instead, they
create new jobs by forming new businesses, spending their incomes on
American goods and services, paying taxes and raising the productivity
of U.S. businesses. Immigrants are good for the economy, not the other
Francine J. Lipman, MBA, LLM, Professor of Law, Business and Economics at Chapman University, in a Spring 2006 Tax Lawyer essay titled "Taxing Undocumented Immigrants: Separate, Unequal and Without Representation," wrote:
"Americans believe that undocumented immigrants are exploiting the United States' economy. The widespread belief is that illegal aliens cost more in government services than they contribute to the economy. This belief is undeniably false... [E]very empirical study of illegals' economic impact demonstrates the opposite... [U]ndocumenteds actually contribute more to public coffers in taxes than they cost in social services. Moreover, undocumented immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy through their investments and consumption of goods and services; filling of millions of essential worker positions resulting in subsidiary job creation, increased productivity and lower costs of goods and services; and unrequited contributions to Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance programs."
Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, PhD, Associate Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), in a July 18, 2005 BusinessWeek interview titled "A Massive Economic Development Boom," wrote:
"First and foremost, [illegal immigration] it's a source of value added. The total goods and services that they consume through their paycheck, plus all that they produce for their employers, is close to about $800 billion. They're also producing at relatively lower costs because the undocumented population typically gets about 20% less in wages than if they were legalized. That leads to lower prices for us and higher profits to employers. In addition, they're obviously a huge consumer base. We've seen that 90% of the wages that the undocumented population gets are spent inside the U.S. Remittances are sent abroad, but that only represents about 10% of immigrants' income. The numbers are becoming quite huge. We estimate about $50 billion dollars in remittances this year. That means that total consumptive capacity remaining in the U.S. is $400 billion to $450 billion. If you took away the undocumented population, it would be the worst economic disaster in the history of the US."
The Washington Post, in a June 4, 2007 editorial article titled "Immigrants Equal Growth... Reform Isn't Just Humane. It's Self-Interest," offered the following position:
"Amid the blizzard of data concerning
immigrants' effects on wages, welfare and municipal budgets, the
essential point is this: The latest wave of immigrants - legal and
illegal, skilled and unskilled - has stimulated enormous economic
activity and wealth generation in this country, and it is implausible
that the American economy would fare as well without them...
most immigrants come when they are young and working... they tend not
to collect Social Security or Medicare for many years - even while
paying into the systems with payroll taxes, in many cases with phony
Social Security numbers (meaning they will contribute but not collect).
In fact, illegal immigrants do not get federal welfare benefits of any
kind. At the same time they often pay income tax (through paycheck
withholdings) and sales tax, thereby helping directly or indirectly to
underwrite transportation, health care, education and other services.
while immigrants surely have contributed to some extent to the ranks of
the poor, that was also true of previous waves of immigrants; the point
is, most of those immigrants didn't stay poor."
Tamar Jacoby, JD, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, stated in her July 26, 2005 testimony before the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary:
"The native-born American work force
is aging; it's shrinking. Today's young people aspire to work inside,
with their minds not their muscles. And it's good news for us that there
are immigrants eager to come to our country to do the unskilled work
that we need done. What's more, this relatively small number of
immigrant workers helps keep a much larger number of American workers
employed. Many American businesses could not grow without immigrant
workers. Others, including in agriculture and food processing, would
find it difficult to remain in the United States...
So the problem with our
immigration system isn't the immigrants. The problem is that our
immigration quotas provide so few opportunities for most of them to
enter the country legally... [T]here are only 5,000 visas available for
unskilled foreigners seeking year-round work...
This is the
heart of the current crisis. We need the labor; foreign workers want the
jobs. But there are no legal channels so inevitably people come
illegally. And it is this mismatch - the mismatch between the size of the
flow and our quotas - that creates most of the problems we associate with