Research Paper: Illegal Immigration Cost

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[. . .] The GAO found that the number was, on average, 8 times. They also said that "Approximately fifteen percent of these crimes were "property-related offenses," including "burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and property damage." Twelve percent of these crimes were "violent offenses such as murder, robbery, assault, and sex-related crimes" (Blair, 2011). This is from a sample of over 55,000 illegal immigrants who have at some time been through the American justice system. The alarming part seems to be that although these people were caught eight times on average, they were not even once referred to immigration services to be returned to their own country. Of course, this may seem like a waste of time since they are very likely to return very quickly.

Today the costs are even greater if they are taken as a nationwide survey. FAIR studies of the problem have the federal illegal immigrant population at 55,000 currently and at 297,000 in state and local jails (FAIR, 2012). They estimate that this costs taxpayers an amazing $16.5 billion a year total across federal, state and local agencies (FAIR, 2012). The following table, provided by FAIR (2012), shows prison population in select states (those with the largest estimated illegal populations).

Shares of Illegal Alien and Prison Populations



Illegal est.

Share Illegal

Share prison





















New Mexico





New Jersey















North Carolina










This table shows that California has the highest overall illegal immigrant population and the highest percentage of illegal aliens in prisons as compared to the overall population of such individuals. It is easy to see with 334,645 illegal aliens currently in California jails what the costs would be to the taxpayers to keep these individuals housed. It is no wonder that people are begging the government to find a solution. But, there are other problems besides crime.

Other Associated Issues

Every state in the U.S. requires that every resident of a specific district pay a state-levied amount of tax for children to go to school through high school. Of course, the children are not required to go to the local public schools, there are many other options, but every child is required to attend school until the age of 16. This is not limited to the children of legal residents because "After the U.S. Supreme Court decided Plyler v. Doe in 1982, it became impermissible for states to deny public education to illegal immigrant students" (Blondell, 2008). This promise has added to the overall costs of education for every child. Costs are estimated to be approximately $29 billion a year to educate these children which breaks down to "taxpayers $12 billion a year for illegal immigrant children and $17 billion a year for the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants already residing here" (Blondell, 2008). Education is a precious thing, and since the executive order that has allowed children who were brought to the United States at a young age to accelerate their citizenship and not be deported, this is just going to encourage more parents to bring their children to the U.S. whether they have the right to be in the U.S. Or not.

Most people in the United States are aware that education is important and that educating these children will help them to break the cycle of poverty that many illegal immigrants fall into, but it seems presumptuous for the U.S. To guarantee that the hard earned money of taxpayers will go for the education of parents who pay no taxes. This is just another issue where the federal government and the people are at odds. This may be fixed with immigration reform, but it is more likely that amnesty will be granted and the problem will just multiply.

Another area that is costing U.S. tax payers a great deal of money with respect to illegal aliens is healthcare. There was a vote to decide whether aliens should receive non-emergency healthcare (Proposition 187) and it passed. However, "a U.S. District Judge overturned the ballot proposition in 1999. California now provides both legal and illegal aliens with Emergency Medicaid, pre-natal care, and nursing home care" (Blair, 2011). Again, this seems to be an unfair use of federal power to inflict the cost of illegal aliens on the tax payers of California. These individuals would still have been allowed to use emergency services, but for other care they would have had to return to their homeland. A study found that "One-third of the patients treated by the Los Angeles county health system each year are illegal aliens, according to county health officials. In 2002, the county spent $350 million providing health care to illegal aliens, according to the Department of Health Services" (FAIR, 2012). This meant that the county did not have the funds to maintain 16 health clinics, and that two hospitals, maintained by the county, were also forced to close because of a lack of funds. The FAIR (2012) study also found that "In the last decade, 60 California emergency rooms have closed." This is a net loss of healthcare facilities for people who can afford the care. This means that Californians who counted on these facilities for care now have to travel farther and the cost of care has gone up because there are fewer facilities for an increasing number of people.


The United States government, along with state governments, is trying to find a solution that will unite the American people and reduce the associated costs of the issue. It seems that most people have become resigned to the fact that there is always going to be some amount of illegal alien influx, but that does not mean that the costs have to remain constant (FAIR, 2012). However, there seem to be great ideological differences between the solutions offered by both sides (Chowdhurry & Pedace, 2007).

The most extreme solution is to allow amnesty to every illegal alien who has worked in the United States and not been convicted of any crime while in residence. This would mean that people would have to trust the government enough to register and receive their new official documents, but it would benefit the U.S. In several ways. First, the illegals would be able to get jobs that pay a living wage and forced them to pay taxes. This would supposedly increase the overall tax rolls, providing more money for their care. It would also help assimilate the people, so that they felt a greater connection to the U.S. And would hopefully help reduce the overall crime rate. Amnesty would also keep more money in the United States since many illegal aliens send money back to their home villages, most of which would likely stop. But the negatives may outweigh the positives. It would increase unemployment rolls as more jobs would be required for the new influx of legal Americans. The same issue would still exist with overcrowding in healthcare and other areas of society. There is no guarantee that crime rates would lessen, some estimates suggest that they would increase (Blair, 2011).

The United States could begin to enforce the laws that are on their books such as requiring people to have identification, and if they did not then they would be subject to a background check. This is not only the law in Arizona, it is the law in California also. By just enforcing the law and sending people who break it back to their country of origin or to jail (if they violate the laws regarding hiring illegal aliens and are U.S. citizens) the problem would probably decrease quickly. The issue here is that a great deal more law enforcement would probably be needed to make this a reality, and that would cost the tax payers again. But, it may be worth it to the majority of tax payers I they knew that their taxes were going to alleviating this issue.

A final solution could be to work with other countries such as Mexico and other South and Central American countries to increase the level of safety and financial security offered to their citizens. By helping the citizens realize the same financial opportunities they have believe they would have in the United States in their own countries, they would probably rather stay home. Using economic incentives and helping to spread democracy in other ways may be the most diplomatic solution, but there would have to be a lot of compromise from other governments, and that may prove difficult.

Whatever happens, it is a complex problem to which there are no simple solutions. However, the President and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Illegal Immigration Cost.  (2012, November 18).  Retrieved June 19, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Illegal Immigration Cost."  18 November 2012.  Web.  19 June 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Illegal Immigration Cost."  November 18, 2012.  Accessed June 19, 2019.