A new report by FAIR, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration, finds that as of 2022, American taxpayers shell out at least $150.7 billion each year to cover the cost of illegal immigration. Broken down, the data reveals that taxpayers pay $182 billion annually to provide services and benefits to illegal aliens and their dependents. These costs are offset by about $31 billion in taxes that are collected from the estimated 15.5 million illegal aliens living in the United States, bringing the net cost to $150.7 billion annually.
The 2022 costs represent a 30 percent increase to taxpayers in just five years. A former version of this study, conducted in 2017 by FAIR, placed the annual net cost of illegal immigration at $116 billion. Most of the additional costs have been added in the past two years, as the Biden administration’s de facto open borders policies have triggered a historic surge of new illegal migrants pouring across our borders.
The updated $150.7 billion price tag is a conservative estimate as there are additional costs incurred from illegal immigration, but there is currently insufficient data to provide reliable cost estimates. The report also does not take into account the impact of the Biden administration’s expansive (and legally questionable) use of parole authority to allow hundreds of thousands of ineligible migrants to enter the country each year is certain to balloon these already staggering costs to taxpayers. Those admitted under the administration’s latest abuse of parole authority are quickly eligible to access government services and assistance programs (while they wait for years to plead their case to remain here) that are off-limits to illegal aliens who sneak across the border or overstay their visas.
FAIR’s comprehensive analysis looks at available federal, state, and local programs and services that are directly accessible to illegal aliens, or indirectly, through their U.S.-born children who qualify for all means-tested programs. In addition to the surge of illegal immigration since 2021, state and local governments have offered a variety of new benefits and services to illegal aliens, which have exacerbated the situation for struggling taxpayers.
Among the key findings in FAIR’s report, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers:
The gross annual cost of illegal immigration (the total amount before taxes paid by illegal aliens are factored in) is now $182 billion, annually.
- Taxes paid by illegal aliens only cover around 17.2 percent of the costs they create for American citizens, bringing the net cost to $150.7 billion a year. For every dollar in taxes paid by illegal aliens, they and their dependents consume six dollars in benefits and services.
- The largest component of the cost is K-12 education, which must be provided under a 1982 Supreme Court ruling, Plyler v. Doe. The annual K-12 education cost for illegal aliens (and their U.S.-born children) is $78 billion, of which $70.4 billion is borne by states and localities.
- Health care for illegal aliens costs taxpayers about $42.7 billion annually.
- A variety of food assistance and nutritional programs used by illegal aliens and their children cost taxpayers about $13.5 billion annually.
- Combined federal, state, and local criminal justice costs associated with illegal immigration run about $47 billion annually – not including the cost of damages to victims.
The release of FAIR’s study received national and local news media attention and has been cited by members of Congress who are pushing back against the Biden administration’s bankrupt (literally and figuratively) policies. The report was also widely discussed on talk radio programs across the country.
The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration is the product of a prodigious effort by FAIR’s Research Department which spent months combing through numerous databases to find information which is often deliberately obscured to keep American taxpayers in the dark about the costs of illegal immigration. The report was compiled by FAIR researchers: Spencer Raley, Pawel Styrna, and Michael Capuano.
The full report, The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration.
Ira joined FAIR in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.
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