NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

THE FISCAL COST OF LOW-SKILL IMMIGRANTS TO STATE AND LOCAL TAXPAYERS

May 22, 2007

Recent proposed immigration legislation in the Senate and House will raise costs on the taxpayers at all levels of government.  By granting amnesty to illegal immigrants (who are overwhelmingly low skilled) and creating massive new "guest worker" programs which would bring millions of additional low skill families into the nation, such legislation, if enacted, would impose massive costs on the U.S. taxpayer, says Robert E. Rector, a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation.

In fiscal year 2004:

  • There were around 4.5 million low-skill immigrant households in the United States containing 15.9 million persons; about 60 percent of these low-skill immigrant households were headed by legal immigrants and 40 percent by illegal immigrants.
  • The average low-skill immigrant household received $30,160 in direct benefits, means-tested benefits, education and population-based services from all levels of government; by contrast, low-skill immigrant households paid only $10,573 in taxes.
  • The average low-skill household had a fiscal burden (the cost of benefits and services received minus taxes paid) of $19,588.
  • At the state and local level, the average low-skill immigrant household received $14,145 in benefits and services and paid only $5,309 in taxes, or a net fiscal burden on state and local governments of $8,836 per year.

The fiscal burden imposed by low skill immigrant households is slightly greater at the state and local level than at the federal level:

  • The annual fiscal deficit for all 4.54 million low skill immigrant households at the state and local level in 2004 was $49.1 billion.
  • Over the next ten years the state and local fiscal deficit caused by low skill immigrants on state and local governments will approach a half trillion dollars.

Source: Robert E. Rector, "The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Immigrants to State and Local Taxpayers," Statement Before the Subcommittee on Immigration of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States House of Representatives, May 17, 2007.

 

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