The High Cost of Immigration
The costs of illegal immigration to the taxpayer are numerous, but the largest costs are education of their children, health care and incarceration for those arrested for crimes.
Despite being ineligible, some illegal aliens also get welfare the same way they get jobs: with identity documents falsely identifying them as U.S. citizens. In addition, if they have U.S.-born children, they may collect welfare assistance in the name of those children.
The annual net cost of illegal immigrants (after subtracting their tax payments) to the American taxpayer is likely to be more than $45 billion.
New Jersey’s Immigrant Population
The increase in the foreign-born population during the 1990s accounted for 75 percent of the New Jersey’s overall population increase during the decade. Foreign-born residents now comprise 18 percent of the total state population, higher than the national average of 11 percent.
About 2.4 million people in New Jersey are immigrants or the children of immigrants, 29 percent of the state’s population. Demographers estimate New Jersey has between 300,000 and 500,000 illegal immigrants, mostly Mexicans. Only a handful of states -- including California, Texas and Florida -- have more.
The average immigrant household in New Jersey consumes more public services than it pays for with taxes, incurring a 37 percent higher state fiscal deficit than natives and a 59 percent greater local burden.
New Jersey’s Immigrants Burden Taxpayers
In some states, the amount of money spent to educate illegal alien children accounts for a substantial portion of the state budget shortfall; in New Jersey, for instance, it accounts for 28 percent of the total state budget deficit. Estimates range from a high of one-half billion dollars to $359 million spent educating illegal immigrants in New Jersey.
The growth in federal grants for special language programs has more than doubled, from $157 million in 1995 to $460 million in 2002.
Bringing ELL-enrolled children up to the grade level of same age non-ELL-enrolled children has been estimated to increase costs by an additional 10 to 100 percent over usual per pupil costs.
Bringing students characterized by both poverty and limited English proficiency up to average levels of achievement increases average costs by a larger amount—about 30 to 200 percent over average per pupil costs.
Between 1990 and 2000, school enrollment in the United States increased by 14 percent. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the size of the student population will almost double by 2100.
Between 1990 and 2000, New Jersey’s elementary and high school enrollment increased 21 percent—a rate even the state Department of Education did not predict. Yet without school-age immigrants and the children of immigrants school enrollment would not be rising at all.
School capacity to absorb new students is an issue because overcrowded facilities are related to growth in enrollments which in turn leads to additional costs for enlarging or construct new schools, placing an additional burden on taxpayers.
Health Care Costs
Health care costs and insurance premiums are rising, due in part to burgeoning levels of uncompensated care.
One out of every four uninsured people in the United States is an immigrant. Immigrants and their children accounted for 59 percent of the growth in the size of the uninsured population in the last ten years
When immigrants receiving insurance through publicly funded Medicaid are factored in, almost half of immigrants have either no insurance or have it provided to them at taxpayers' expense.
New Jersey is considered among the top 10 states in the nation for the costs of caring for illegal immigrants. The NJHA estimates that New Jersey’s acute care hospitals alone spend at least $200 million annually caring for illegal immigrants without Medicaid or insurance.
The Star-Ledger recently highlighted the example of an uninsured illegal immigrant treated at Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth at cost of more than $4 million.
High Public Health Risks
Because illegal immigrants, unlike those who are legally admitted for permanent residence, undergo no medical screening to assure that they are not bearing contagious diseases, the rapidly swelling population of illegal aliens in our country has also set off a resurgence of contagious diseases that had been totally or nearly eradicated by our public health system.
Crime and Incarceration
The cost of incarceration of illegal aliens in state prisons has also risen rapidly. In fiscal year ’02, the Department of Justice’s State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) distributed $550 million to the states to help defray their expenses, but this was estimated to cover only about one fifth of their outlays.
Employment and Income
Labor groups say the presence of illegal aliens can siphon jobs away from legal workers because the aliens will work for less. A Harvard University economist told Time magazine last fall that immigration from 1980 to 2000 reduced the average salary of native-born men by $1,700 a year.
Quality of Life
Immigration-driven population growth is taking a serious toll on New Jersey, bringing traffic, overcrowded schools, pollution, and lack of affordable housing to the state, decreasing quality of life and straining water and other vital natural resources.
Congressional Record on Immigration
Check out our congressional delegation’s report cards on immigration here.
For an in-depth look at the immigration related votes cast by your elected representatives in Washington click on the links below.
Corzine, Jon (Senator) - View
Lautenberg, Frank (Senator) - View
Andrews, Robert (District 01) - View
Ferguson, Michael (District 07) - View
Frelinghuysen, Rodney (District 11) - View
Garrett, Scott (District 05) - View
Holt, Rush (District 12) - View
LoBiondo, Frank (District 02) - View
Menendez, Robert (District 13) - View
Pallone, Frank (District 06) - View
Pascrell, Bill (District 08) - View
Payne, Donald (District 10) - View
Rothman, Steven (District 09) - View
Saxton, Jim (District 03) - View