Illegal Immigration Costs Californians $25.3 Billion a Year

John Vinson's picture

By John Vinson

John is a Senior Writing Fellow with CAPS. A long-time advocate of conservation and responsible use of natural resources, John is president of the American Immigration Control Foundation.

The writer's views are his own. 

July 9, 2014

Illegal aliens and their children are costing California taxpayers $25.3 billion a year, according to a study recently published by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). This is $4.7 billion more than the total calculated in a similar study FAIR did four years ago and equals $2,370 per California household headed by a U.S. citizen.

An estimated 4.1 million illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children live in California. That is nearly 11 percent of the state’s population.

The increase in costs related to illegal immigration came as the State Assembly passed laws to make California more user-friendly to illegal residents, specifically by restricting the ability of local and state officials to assist in deporting them and by granting them access to licenses to drive.

The largest category of expense is for education. Significantly adding to the cost of education is language instruction to remedy the lack of English proficiency. Funds to educate illegal aliens mean less money to educate native-born children. Other major categories of expense for illegal immigration are justice and law enforcement, healthcare, public assistance and general government services.

The FAIR study notes that local and state taxes paid by illegal aliens in California total $3.5 billion. FAIR maintains, however, that this should not be considered “an offset” to the total cost because “similar, and likely greater, tax revenues would be collected if the same jobs were filled by legal workers.”

The findings of the FAIR study are most significant and relevant as the state of California and a number of its municipalities have faced recurring fiscal crises in recent years, up to and including bankruptcy. In this situation it is absolutely senseless to encourage millions of people to come to and stay in California, and impose a net fiscal loss on the state.

Finances probably will grow even tighter if the state’s horrific drought continues to worsen. In that situation, authorities will have to find ways to stretch dwindling water supplies, and those solutions won’t be cheap. Making them more costly will be the presence of additional millions of people who aren’t authorized to be in the state and who need water just like everyone else.

Much to their credit, Californians tried to avert this situation 20 years ago when 59 percent voted for Proposition 187, a ballot initiative to cut public benefits for illegal aliens, and thereby discourage them from settling in the state. Sadly, a single federal judge, with later assistance from state officials, gutted that measure.

Responsible Californians want their state government to rescind the welcome mat offered to illegal residents. One highly advisable step would be mandating use of the E-Verify system to help prevent hiring unauthorized workers by public and private employers.

It may be politically incorrect to talk about the woeful consequences of illegal immigration, but that doesn’t mean the problem is going away or will cease to grow ever more painful in the pocketbook.

Please tell your elected officials “No Amnesty.”

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