The True Cost of Immigration

Our unsustainable predicament.

Democrats, along with a number of equally feckless Republicans, are extolling the virtues of “comprehensive immigration reform.” Such jargon obscures their real agenda, which is the abandonment of the rule of law in favor of a political expediency that benefits the ruling class and its campaign contributors. A ruling class and campaign contributors who seek to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” into a nation where progressive power is permanent, and cheap labor is plentiful. Hence, while those virtues are put front and center before the public, the vices associated with illegal immigration are relegated to the back of the proverbial bus. Here’s a look at some of those vices.

We begin with crime. There are a number of statistical measurements. One is a 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report revealing that the number SCAAP criminal alien incarcerations in state prison systems and local jails in FY2009 (the most recent data available) was about 296,000. As American Thinker’s Randall Hoven explains, “SCAAP is the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program and in this context means ‘illegal aliens’ – a GAO term meaning ‘Noncitizens whom ICE verified were [or whom states and local jurisdictions believe to be] illegally in the United States at the time of incarceration.’”

Another is a report by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) obtained by Breitbart News. It shows that while illegal aliens comprise 3.5 percent of the nation’s population, they comprised a whopping 36.7 percent of federal sentences following criminal convictions in FY 2014. The actual number of crimes for which these illegals received sentences was 27,505. The primary categories include drug trafficking, kidnapping/hostage taking, drug possession, money laundering and murder convictions.

This data comprise actual convictions of federal offenders subject to the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (SRA). Omitted from the list are state and death penalty cases, as well as “cases initiated but for which no convictions were obtained, offenders convicted for whom no sentences were yet issued, and offenders sentenced but for whom no sentencing documents were submitted to the Commission.” And while the data do include immigration violations, which makes up the lion’s share of convictions, eliminating that category entirely would still have illegals comprising 13.6 percent of all sentenced offenders, a number that far exceeds the aforementioned 3.5 percent of the total U.S. population they represent.

More germane is data revealed by Judicial Watch (JW). They note that “as of April 26, 2014, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had released 165,900 convicted criminal aliens throughout the United States, including many convicted of such violent crimes as homicide, sexual assault, kidnapping, and aggravated assault.” These illegals, along with 706,950 non-criminal illegals, were ordered to leave the country, “but have not done so and remain free,” JW reveals. JW also explains the documents reveal the difficulty ICE has with local policies that interfere with federal enforcement of immigration law. Those would be “sanctuary city” policies and JW cites a case in Montgomery County, MD where officials prevented ICE from gaining access to an illegal charged with rape.

The pro-illegal defense? “The 2010 Census data reveals that incarceration rates among the young, less-educated Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men who make up the bulk of the unauthorized population are significantly lower than the incarceration rate among native-born young men without a high-school diploma,” spouts the American Immigration Council. Similar statistics apply to legal immigrants, which aside from being irrelevant, obscures the fundamental question none of the pro-illegal immigration defenders would dare answer:

Why is any level of crime committed by illegals tolerable? Or perhaps more to the point in light of the sanctuary city policy directly responsible for the murder of Kathryn Steinle by seven-time felon and five-times deported Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, what is the “acceptable” level of murder and mayhem the American left will tolerate to advance its bankrupt agenda?

Moving onto to welfare benefits, the stats are equally bleak, regarding both legal and illegal aliens. According to data compiled by the Census Bureau, most U.S. families headed by illegal immigrants take advantage of taxpayer-funded welfare programs enabled by their American-born anchor babies. As the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) explains, while approximately 52 percent of households with children headed by legal immigrants used at least one welfare program in 2009, that number rises to 71 percent for illegal immigrant households with children. The highest percentage of welfare rates among immigrant households with children are comprised of families from the Dominican Republic (82 percent), Mexico and Guatemala (75 percent), and Ecuador (70 percent). Overall welfare usage by households headed by immigrants was 37 percent, compared to just 22 percent for native Americans.

CIS cites low levels of education, rather than an unwillingness to work, as the primary drivers of these totals. That sea change in worker skill levels was driven by the Immigration Act of 1965  which replaced a National Origins Formula designed to maintain the existing population demographic in the nation as of 1924, to one based on immigrants’ skills and family relationships with U.S. citizens or residents.

As a 2014 Migration Policy Institute report reveals, “skills” has become a virtually meaningless term with regard to the overwhelming majority of illegals. One-in-three do not even have a high school education, and the resultant influx of low-educated, low-skill workers “will devastate the black community, which is already struggling in the wake of the recession that began in 2007 and the subsequent years of malaise,” wrote  U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow in a letter to Obama last year. Once again, Americans might ask themselves whose interest it serves to import and/or legalize a population of low-skill, undereducated people more inclined to use welfare than American citizens, and whose marginal jobs skills will put them in competition with Americans who need work the most. 

And that’s before Obama’s determination to grant 5 million illegals three-year work permits, an effort currently stalled by federal Judge Andrew Hanen. If Obama eventually prevails those permits will whack American workers even harder, because they don’t allow illegals to get ObamaCare. Thus businesses that hire amnestied illegals will not have to pay the $3000 ObamaCare penalty for denying them healthcare coverage—creating a perverse incentive to hire illegals rather than Americans.

School and state budgets have also borne the deleterious impact of illegal immigration. A report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which advocates ending illegal immigration, notes the influx of Limited English Proficient (LEP) students, most of whom are children of illegal alien parents that have “exacerbated an already formidable and costly task for public school educators and administrators in many localities across the United States.” Much of that impact is attributable to the massive influx of Unaccompanied Alien children (UACs) the Obama administration not only allowed into the country, but dispersed throughout every state in the nation, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. As a result school districts from Lynn, MA to Miami-Dade County, FL are enduring budget-busting costs associated with that influx. In California alone, taxpayers faced a $12.3 billion tab in 2014 for illegal alien children, and those born to illegal parents, attending K-12 schools.

Turning illegals away is not an option. In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Plyler v. Doe that any effort to do so violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Obama administration lawyers insist it also violates the Civil rights Act of 1964, and that assertion led to a ”Dear Colleague” letter from the DOJ and the US. Department of Education, warning schools districts against anything that would “chill or discourage the participation, or lead to the exclusion, of students based on their or their parents’ or guardians’ actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status” in contravention of federal law.

State budgets are equally strained. As a 2013 report by the Heritage Foundation reveals, in 2010, the average unlawful immigrant household has a net deficit of $14,387. This is based on the reality that these households receive approximately $24,721 in government benefits and services, while paying only $10,334 in taxes. Heritage further noted that if amnesty is enacted, former illegals as a group would receive $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services and pay $3.1 trillion in taxes over the course of their expected lifetimes, producing a net deficit of $6.3 trillion.

Heritage also rebuked claims by politicians that relatively young illegals will reduce the strain on an aging society hooked on entitlements. “Regrettably, this is not true. At every stage of the life cycle, unlawful immigrants, on average, generate fiscal deficits (benefits exceed taxes),” the report states. 

A 2013 report by FAIR paints an equally dismal picture, noting the “annual costs of illegal immigration at the federal, state and local level to be about $113 billion.” The federal government bears $29 billion of that burden, while taxpayers at the state and local level underwrite $84 billion. As for recoupment,  about one-third of outlays at the federal level are offset by tax collections from illegals. At the state and local level, recoupment plunges to less than 5 percent of the public costs associated with illegal immigration.

The lion’s share of those costs? Education, accounting for $52 billion of the annual total, most of which is absorbed by state and local governments.

Regardless of these daunting realities and others, there is little doubt comprehensive immigration reform will be force-fed to the American public. It is a public the mainstream media insist favors such reform, but such polls are highly misleading because that approval is predicated on a host of factors as a condition for it. They include securing the border and other conditions placed on illegals themselves for anything resembling permanent residence, or a “pathway to citizenship.” These include the payment of a fine, submission to a background check, the payment of taxes, having a clean criminal record, and a willingness to learn English and civics.

What no one in the pro-illegal camp, from immigration activists to the political class, is willing to discuss? What happens if those conditions remain unmet, or are watered down to the point of absurdity? Americans are fully aware immigration promises have been broken with impunity, including the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, the Secure Fence Act of 2006—and Obama’s numerous assertions he couldn’t ignore or create immigration law.

It will be no different going forward. Before the ink is dry on any new pact, the American left and its allies will be characterizing any resistance to the incremental evisceration of that pact as nativist, bigoted or hard-hearted. The media and the courts will be enjoined in the effort, and what little Republican resistance exists will be of the “we did the best we could” surrender that has become their trademark. And the nation that was once a barometer of assimilation by which every other nation was measured, will devolve into a balkanized conglomeration of sub-groups. A balkanization that will inevitably arise as the melting pot mentality is tossed on the ash heap of history in favor of the “celebrating our differences” mentality cherished by the multiculturalists whose ultimate goal is the complete deconstruction of the nation as it now exists.