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IPFS News Link • Immigration

The Costs of Immigration

• / Art Carden

According to the Center for Immigration Studies (via the Federation for American Immigration Reform), state government spending on welfare for immigrants is $11-$22 billion through programs like TANF. A report by the Center for Immigration Studies estimated that the Federal Government spend some $26.3 billion on services for illegal immigrants in 2002. These immigrants paid about $16 billion in taxes, leaving us with a net cost of about $10.4 billion (these are their numbers; I know $26.3-$16=$10.3, but there’s rounding error).

Let’s bias this number upward. We’ll take the high estimate of state spending ($22 billion) and assume that the $26.3 billion is all costs. Add them together and we get $48.3 billion. Let’s round it up to $50 billion and assume that there are no offsetting benefits. According to the website, state, local, and federal governments spent almost $5 trillion in 2007. Even if the money spent on welfare for immigrants had no offsetting benefits, it’s about 1% of government spending in 2007.

This is not meant to be precise: the numbers are from several different years, and the calculations are only to get a sense of the magnitude of government spending on immigrants relative to government spending on everything else. Even if you double this crude estimate of the amount being spent on immigrant welfare, you’re up to 2% of 2007 government spending. Compared to the elephants in the Federal budget (Social Security, Medicare, Defense), the money we’re spending on welfare for immigrants isn’t very much.