Cost of Illegals to Floridians

Florida is a state on the road to economic recovery. Unemployment has dropped 2.3% since Governor Rick Scott was sworn into office. The question is what will be the impact of President Obama’s executive order giving legal status to some, but not all, illegals on Florida and its economy?

As Dr. Thomas Sowell in his column “The Immigration Ploy” notes, “People cannot plan their lives on the basis of laws that can suddenly appear, and then suddenly disappear, in less than a year. To come forward today and claim the protection of the Obama Executive Order is to declare publicly and officially that your parents entered the country illegally. How that may be viewed by some later administration is anybody’s guess. Employers likewise cannot rely on policies that may be here today and gone tomorrow, whether these are temporary tax rates designed to look good at election time or temporary immigration policies that can backfire later if employers get accused of hiring illegal immigrants.” [My emphasis]

Professor Sowell asks, “Why hire someone, and invest time and money in training them, if you may be forced to fire them before a year has passed?”

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimated the illegal population in Florida at 820,000 in 2010. FAIR estimated in 2009 the annual cost to educate, incarcerate and medicate illegal aliens in Florida at over $5.4 billion. The Florida Chamber Foundation in its January 2011 Immigration and Florida’s Economy report written by Carrie Blanchard, Ph.D. and Dale A. Brill, Ph.D. states, “While the number of unauthorized immigrants is more difficult to determine, an estimate by the Pew Research Center indicates that there are approximately 1 million unauthorized immigrants that reside within Florida, or about 5.7% of the state’s population, and approximately 750,000 unauthorized immigrants in the labor force, which represents 8.2% of Florida’s labor force (Passel and Cohn, 2009).”

The Florida Chamber Foundation report states, “While unauthorized immigrants are not eligible for most state aid programs, states do incur expenses related to immigration, especially in the areas of criminal justice and education. Further, hospitals that are mandated to provide service regardless of immigration status also incur non‐reimbursed expenditures related to providing care to unauthorized immigration. Still, a cost‐benefit analysis must include both sides of the equation as many studies demonstrate the net positive impact of immigration on the economy and tax revenues.” President Obama’s executive order would make those granted amnesty eligible for all state aid programs at least on a temporary basis. This makes it difficult for the state to estimate costs based on the premise that this executive order can be over ridden by Congress or another President.

The Florida Chamber Foundation report noted, “A separate analysis on the effects of immigration and wage was performed for the four states with the highest levels of immigration – California, Florida, New York and Texas.  The results show that the overall effect of immigration on native‐born worker wages was positive 0.7%, or $6.44 per week; however, the subgroup of native‐born male workers with less than a high school degree in these states fared slightly worse, with Florida males with less than a high school education experiencing a relative decline of $2.13 in weekly wages (Shierholz, 2010). ”

As FAIR executive director Dan Stein noted in congressional testimony on March 4, 1999, “Our laws should not reward illegal immigrants to the United States regardless of the political or natural upheavals in their homelands. Otherwise, experience shows that we will encourage further illegal immigration. By now, we should have learned from experience that TPS is misnamed — what we offer as “temporary” protection is most often seen by the aliens residing illegally in the United States as a foot in the door to legal permanent residence. They are happy to accept our offer of humanitarian concern, but they have no intention of departing the United States when TPS status expires.”

Dr. Sowell writes, “The principle involved — keeping children from being hurt by actions over which they had no control — is one already advanced by Senator Marco Rubio, who may well end up as Governor Romney’s vice-presidential running mate. The Obama Executive Order, which suddenly popped up like a rabbit out of a magician’s hat, steals some of Senator Rubio’s thunder, so it is clever politics. But clever politics is what has gotten this country into so much trouble, not only as regards immigration but also as regards the economy and the dangerous international situation.”

The real economic impact on Florida taxpayers of President Obama’s executive ordered temporary amnesty will not be know until November 7, 2012. If President Obama is reelected then the order will stand, unless the new Congress intervenes, or a new President rescinds the order. Only time will tell. Till then Floridians, Florida businesses and the legislature will have to wait and see – living in economic limbo.


Rasmussen Report: 58% Think Federal Government Encourages Illegal Immigration