Immigration

Study: Illegal Immigration Is an Economic Bludgeon

Illegal immigrants cost taxpayers $116 billion annually — an "unsustainable trend."

Jordan Candler · Jan. 18, 2018

In September 2016, we reported on a study by The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine which concluded that immigration is an economic bludgeon. By incorporating a slew of variables to analyze the impact of both lawful and unlawful immigration, the NAS reported that immigration costs taxpayers between $43 billion and $296 billion annually. A more recent study suggests that the more likely figure is closer to the high end of the spectrum.

In September 2017, Matt O'Brien and Spencer Raley published a detailed Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) report titled, “The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers.” They calculate that total governmental expenditures add up to $135 billion annually. But illegal immigrants only contribute about $19 billion in taxes, leaving a net deficit cost to taxpayers of $116 billion.

It’s also interesting to note that governments have an unequal divvying up of expenditures. The federal government absorbs $46 billion in outlays, while state and local governments dole out $89 billion. At the same time, $15.4 billion in taxes goes to the federal government, whereas just $3.5 billion goes to state and local governments. In other words, as the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard put it, “State and local governments are getting ravaged by the costs,” and “The federal government … is getting off easy.”

“In 2013,” O'Brien and Raley add, “FAIR estimated the total cost to be approximately $113 billion. So, in under four years, the cost has risen nearly $3 billion. This is a disturbing and unsustainable trend.” Indeed. Democrats rail against what it would cost to build a wall on our southern border. But the truth is that, even if we use the highest cost estimates, the wall would cost far less than what existing illegal immigrants already cost taxpayers every year. That will only continue to worsen if judicial activists and illegal immigration enablers continue to make mitigation elusive.

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