Decades ago, Nobel laureate Milton Friedman famously argued that illegal immigration could actually be preferable to legal immigration, as illegal immigrants wouldn’t be able to benefit from our welfare state as non-citizens.
If only he was right.
Unfortunately, the border around the welfare state today is about as weak as our actual border. Illegal immigrants are a burden, and welfare is the least of our worries. Of all Federal outlays on illegal immigrants, 27% is devoted towards “administration of justice,” while 21% is medical, an 29% are “general expenditures.” Only 16% of costs are public assistance. At the State level, almost all the costs are related to education, Medicaid, and justice.
Plus, illegal immigrants who have children here will have children who are legal citizens. They’re thus entitled to an even larger array of benefits, which itself is a cost of illegal immigration even if this one doesn’t turn up in the statistics for illegal immigrant costs. The total cost of illegal immigration is $113 billion a year at the federal, state, and local level, but the vast majority of the costs ($84 billion) are taken by state and local governments.
As you’d expect, liberal states who are soft on illegal immigration are voluntarily shooting themselves in the foot when you consider the cost. You can see in the table below what illegal immigration is costing taxpayers in your state.
California is the biggest loser, shelling out over $20 billion a year due to illegal immigration. That’s 1/4th of the cost of illegal immigration bore by the states accounted for by one state alone. Massachusetts is another liberal state shelling out an enormous amount of cash, at nearly $10 billion.
The burden Texas faces is undoubtedly due to a lack of border security, not a welcoming attitude towards illegal immigrants.
On the bright side, the costs of illegal immigration are concentrated in a small cluster of states, and most of those in middle America are unaffected.
And as California’s debt crisis continues to worsen, at least they know one area they can cut spending on…