NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 6, 2007

Immigration reforms that increase the number of low-skilled workers entering the United States threaten to impose a high cost on taxpayers, according to a new Heritage Foundation report.

According to the report's authors:

  • The average household headed by a low-skilled worker pays $9,689 in taxes but receives $32,138 in benefits a year; the more than $22,000 difference is the "tax burden" which rises to $1.1 million over the worker's lifetime.
  • In 2004, the country had 17.7 million low-skilled households that together cost taxpayers $397 billion that year.
  • Those households, without an influx of new unskilled workers, will cost at least $3.9 trillion over the next 10 years.

Eric Rodriguez, deputy vice president of the National Council of La Raza, the country's largest Hispanic civil rights organization, said studies like the Heritage one frequently overlook significant contributions immigrants make to the economy, such as paying into Social Security despite being ineligible for its benefits.

Others disagree. "The Heritage Foundation report proves what we already know, that illegal immigration is a drain to the American people," says Rep. Brian P. Bilbray, chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus. "At more than $22,000 a year, it's like having the American taxpayers buy everyone who doesn't have a high school diploma a brand new Ford Mustang convertible."

Source: S.A. Miller, "Low-skilled aliens exact a burden," Washington Times, April 5, 2007.


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