The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer
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Robert Rector and Jason Richwine, PhD
Unlawful immigration and amnesty for cur¬rent unlawful immigrants can pose large fiscal costs for U.S. taxpayers. Government provides four types of
benefits and services that are relevant to this issue:
Direct benefits. These include Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation.
Means-tested welfare benefits. There are over 80 of these programs which, at a cost of nearly $900 billion per year, provide cash, food, housing,
medical, and other services to roughly 100 million low-income Americans. Major programs include Medicaid, food stamps, the refundable Earned Income
Tax Credit, public housing, Supplemental Security Income, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
Public education. At a cost of $12,300 per pupil per year, these services are largely free or heavily subsidized for low-income parents.
Population-based services. Police, fire, high¬ways, parks, and similar services, as the National Academy of Sciences determined in its study of the
fiscal costs of immigration, generally have to expand as new immigrants enter a community; someone has to bear the cost of that expansion.
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