By Steven Kovac
The recurring annualized cost of illegal immigration has been pegged at $150 billion dollars, and the American public is footing the bill.
The price tag is a net figure established by a 2023 study by the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
According to the study, the presence in the United States of millions of illegal border-crossers costs each U.S. taxpayer a net sum of $957 per year.
“We made conservative estimates and were careful to avoid speculating,” FAIR spokesperson Ira Mehlman told The Epoch Times.
Net Drain on Society
The study determined that the “gross negative impact” (gross cost) of illegal immigration in the United States is actually $182 billion, but that number falls to $150 billion when the $32 billion in federal, state, and local taxes paid by illegal immigrants is subtracted.
The FAIR analysis flies in the face of the commonly advanced narrative that the estimated 15.5 million illegal entrants residing in the United States at the beginning of 2022 are a boon to the nation’s economy.
The estimated figure doesn’t take into account the ongoing increase in illegal immigration in the 19 months since. Nor does it include the 5.4 million babies born to resident illegal immigrants—children who became U.S. citizens by being born in the country.
A similar study by FAIR published in 2017 showed that at that time, the net cost of illegal immigration to U.S. taxpayers was $116 billion.
The rapid increase since 2017 is “a consequence of the ongoing border crisis and a lack of effective immigration enforcement,” according to the study.
Total recurring annualized expenditures by the federal government for illegal immigration currently amount to $66.4 billion. This outlay comes at a time of increasing federal deficits and a lackluster national economy.
States and Cities Bear Brunt
According to the FAIR report, state and local governments are spending even more on illegal immigration, supplying $115 billion to provide illegal migrants and their citizen children with medical care ($18.6 billion); K-12 and post-secondary education ($73.3 billion); welfare support ($1.9 billion); and policing and justice administration ($21.8 billion).
The tax payments of illegal entrants to state and local governments total $15 billion.
The net negative effect of illegal immigrants on state and local economies is more than $100 billion, the study found.
FAIR researchers concluded that tax payments by illegal border-crossers to state and local governments “fall far short of covering the services they consume.”
The FAIR study also stated that the overall wage depression inflicted on local labor markets by the influx of illegal workers has additional negative fiscal ramifications.
Illegal workers laboring “off the books”—and sending large portions of their earnings back to relatives in their home countries—are also seen as a drag on local economies.
Mr. Mehlman told The Epoch Times: “Resources are finite. The cost of illegal aliens impacts every aspect of American life. Ask New York City Mayor Eric Adams.”
Mr. Adams, like many other municipal officials across the country, is finding resources stretched to the breaking point to accommodate the influx of illegal immigrants coming into his city by bus.
Housing, schools, and medical care delivery have been hit the hardest.
“Despite the Biden administration narrative that open borders and uncontrolled illegal immigration is a net positive for America, financial analysis shows it is not a net positive,” Mr. Mehlman said.
Putting Americans First
According to Mr. Mehlman, immigration policy must be based on objective standards and what is going to benefit the American people.
“The whole point of having immigration laws is to protect the vital interests of the American people,” he said.
Mr. Mehlman told The Epoch Times that the problem—now more than ever—stems from the Biden administration’s “outright refusal to enforce our immigration laws.”
“The system is being abused and the American people know it,” he said.
“Look at the polling. On the handling of immigration, Biden’s approval ratings are down in the 20s.
“Government is not listening.”
Shrewd Businessmen, Bleeding Hearts
Addressing some common arguments in favor of open borders, such as businesses’ need for more laborers, Mr. Mehlman said: “Illegal alien labor is not cheap labor. Rather, it is subsidized labor. A small group is benefiting at the expense of the many.
“The benefits of immigrant labor have been privatized and the costs have been socialized.”
Mr. Mehlman also rejected the notion that Americans are obliged on humanitarian grounds to accommodate however many people come in.
He criticized Mr. Biden for manipulating the numbers by changing the immigrants’ mode of entry and claiming that the immigration crisis is waning.
“He is merely making record-setting illegal immigration more orderly,” Mr. Mehlman said.
What does FAIR see as the solution to the problem of illegal immigration?
“In a word—elections,” Mr. Mehlman said.