How Much Do Illegal Immigrants Cost?

Sometimes governments go to extreme lengths to protect its borders from the perceived threat of illegal immigration.
Sometimes governments go to extreme lengths to protect its borders from the perceived threat of illegal immigration.

Illegal immigration is a common practice in many countries, particularly in Europe and America. Illegal migrants are people who cross a country’s border in a way that violates the immigration laws of the land in which they have crossed into with the intention of remaining in the country. Many countries have legislated laws restricting immigration. People illegally migrate into other countries for several reasons including the improvement of income and quality of life.

Illegal Immigrant Population

The actual number of illegal immigrants in the US is uncertain and difficult to ascertain because of the challenges in acquiring an accurate count. The number of illegal immigrants peaked at about 12 million in 2007, but the number has significantly declined since then. Pew Research Center, a non-partisan body, estimated the population to be 11.1 million in 2014. The reduction in the number of illegal immigrants has been driven by the reduction in the number of immigrants from Mexico, increased law enforcement, and fewer job opportunities in the country. They give birth to children in the US once they cross the border with the children becoming US citizens naturally. The children do not form part of illegal children in the country. The state of Georgia experienced the fastest growth of illegal immigrants between 2000 and 2007 with a growth of 15% while in California, Florida, and Texas, the numbers grew by 10%, 17%, and 32% respectively.

Economic Effects Of Illegal Immigrants

Illegal immigrants influence the economy of the country into which they move into. They can affect the economy either positively or negatively. As consumers, they buy goods and services which spurs growth of the economy. Although they pay taxes, immigrants are discriminated against and work with low wages and harsh conditions. The government incurs a lot of expenses in providing services to the illegal immigrants. The taxes paid by the immigrants do not offset the total expenses incurred while providing services to them. The resources offered through the federal aid program to the local government that provides services to the immigrants do not fully cover the cost of necessities. In 2016, the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy estimated that the over 10 million illegal immigrants in the US pay about $11.6 billion in state and local taxes, an estimated 8% of their income.

Economic Cost Of Illegal Immigrants

Illegal immigrants burden the government when they are not able to pay taxes due to restrictive federal policies. Illegal immigrants compose about 4% of the school-age population. Most of the children require remedial classes for language skills further increasing the cost in public schools. The detention centers currently housing thousands of illegal immigrants are very costly. The over 600-bed Karnes facility costs the government over $15 million per year to run. The illegal immigrants have also increased the US population leading to a direct impact on per capita wealth. They also contribute to the growth of income inequality in the country. Therefore, while the immigrants provide labor force and consumers for products and services, the cost of maintaining them outweighs their benefits.


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