Fiscal Relief through Immigration Enforcement

Want to hear an unexplored way to relieve American taxpayers, while reducing billions of dollars of public spending by cash-strapped states and localities? Enforce our immigration laws.

The state of Arizona is having to fight the Obama Administration as hard as it fights illegal aliens and the cartels that smuggle them into the United States. There’s no support whatsoever to help reduce illegals’ fiscal burden.

The Obama Justice Department has sued to block the state’s new, wildly popular S.B. 1070. The administration also has sued Arizona over its employment verification law. Obamaites have targeted Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio with trumped-up charges of mistreating criminal aliens—really just an intimidation tactic straight from the bowels of Chicago politics.

Yet, Arizona’s state and local government agencies, and of course state taxpayers, bear a tremendous cost burden on account of illegal immigration. Still, Obama’s immigration officials are more and more restricting the state and local police role in immigration enforcement, ever narrowing the list of illegals they consider “criminals,” and abusing exceptional-case powers to effect de facto amnesty.

In other words, the federal government—deliberately and systematically, under this administration—is doing nothing to ease the tremendous fiscal burden illegal alien impose on American citizens. In fact, the Obama Administration worsens the fiscal situation for Americans, in Arizona and elsewhere, by its pro-amnesty stance on one hand and its anti-enforcement position on the other hand.

Make no mistake. Immigration imposes significant costs on the native-born. These costs mount at the federal, state and local levels. They range from education to welfare to medical care to criminal justice and beyond. For almost one-third of the states, these costs are measured in the billions of dollars.

The latest study of illegal immigration’s costs comes from the Federation for American Immigration Reform. This report, titled “The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers,” tallies the burden to federal, state and local governments. 

FAIR calculates that illegal immigration imposes annual costs of $113 billion on taxpayers. The federal share of this cost comes to $29 billion a year. States and localities each year shoulder more than $84 billion annually due to illegal immigration.

Native-born families each pay an average $1,117 to subsidize illegal aliens. The report notes that American families in states with larger illegal populations pay a higher amount for the services illegals impose.

State and local spending on illegal aliens is heaviest in California, the No. 1 immigrant destination. That state pays out nearly $28 billion each year to serve illegal aliens. 

Outlays pay for education, healthcare (particularly Medicaid), criminal justice and welfare. Education accounts for the lion’s share of illegal immigration’s costs.

Arizona alone lays out $2.57 billion annually on the public costs imposed by illegals. The so-called jobs magnet may have more power, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the taxpayer subsidy magnet also weighs in aliens’ decision to break U.S. immigration laws.

Apologists for illegal aliens assert that illegals pay taxes here. Set aside the fact that illegals’ presence forces American families to pay an extra $1,117 on average to subsidize the illegals’ public costs. (In Arizona, families face more than $1,500 a year in extra taxes to cover illegals’ costs.) Not only the FAIR study, but any honest analysis shows that illegal aliens don’t nearly pay their fair share of taxes.

Federal taxes paid by illegal aliens amount to about $9.46 billion annually, FAIR reports. Illegals contribute just $3.96 billion a year to state and local coffers. That’s eclipsed several times over by the $84 billion illegals collect through state and local public services.

As a fiscal relief valve, immigration enforcement has proven effective. An August 16, 2006, fact sheet from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau cites massive savings in just one of Arizona’s state agencies.

According to the ICE document, “In November, 2005, the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) began processing alien inmates at their Intake Center as part of the 287(g) program. By processing aliens who met the criteria for early release and turning them over to ICE for removal, the ADC has realized a cost savings of $2,985,655 and a savings of 53,135 bed days.”

The state corrections department in less than one year, with ICE’s cooperation, saved nearly $3 million simply by ridding the state and our nation of some criminal aliens. Yet, the Obama ICE agency has turned hostile toward the 287(g) program, toward state and local immigration enforcement help, toward the exercise of state and local prerogatives directed toward driving illegal aliens from their jurisdictions.

Americans could breathe a great sigh of tax relief if the Obama Administration would stop promising amnesty and start enforcing our immigration laws.