Economic Policy
• Published
June 21, 2021

The Fiscal Burden: Illegal Immigration

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The fundamental topic of illegal immigration touches the essence of the American experience. After all, America was built upon the pursuit of a united national identity. However, in recent years, it has been integrated with diverse areas of foreign policy, agricultural policy, labor policy, and race policy. Be that as it may, it paradoxically remains to be among the least examined of all public policy measures. That was America’s first mistake: paying no heed to restrictions of any kind (preceding the year 1888). In addition, there were numerous restrictions based on ethnic discrimination and ethnic equality. Unsuprisingly, these legal restrictions have rise to the problem of illegal immigration in the midst of the mid 90’s. 

The consequences of illegal immigration include the detrimental effects to the individual, their competitors and the nation as a whole. For many, they resort to establishing the common custom of smuggling. As recent as 2005, it was estimated that upwards of 350,000 illegal immigrants were smuggled across America’s borders from Mexico each year. With numbers spiking, it is apparent that countless more smugglers were not arrested by the INS. Oftenly, human smuggling utilizes treacherous and frequently inhuman methods to transfer human cargo. With the risks of getting caught and arrested, smugglers charge high fees that aliens are forced to pay. But let’s face it: aliens typically come to America with the hopes of escaping unemployment and earning relatively higher wages than their homeland. It’s expected that they are impoverished and unable to cough up the fees for smuggling transportations and fraudulent documents. Thus, inflicting harm upon themselves through perilous jobs. A widely broadcasted exposé disclosed that aliens were driven to participate in organized crime and burglary gangs to pay their fines. Diving into the next consequence as a result of alien immiragtion: the effects upon those with whom they directly compete with. The self-fulfilling prophecy that aliens will accept jobs that Americans will no longer do- ranging from jobs that are high risk or simply too laborious- will generate occurrences in which Americans are no longer included. An illegal alien exhibits a sense of desperation more than citizens do in response to their circumstances and living situations. They are more willing to work harder, longer, and will accept the most arbitrary sets of working conditions, which is no match for the average American. This issue gives citizens the shorter end of the stick and Americans cannot use the contention that aliens will do jobs that citizens will no longer have to do as a valid argument. Ultimately, harm is foisted on the nation as a whole. Private sectors and other ownerships that are part of the economy but do not belong to the state will benefit the most from the exploitation of alien laborers. But as the number of workers increase, there are virtually no benefits to alien workers, as they are denied legal, political, and job protections, and are also under the persistent fear of being identified by enforcement agencies. Surely that cannot be in the best interest of American citizens to victimize aliens for personal gain.  

Federal government acknowledges the fiscal burden from illegal migrations on state budgets that include, but are not limited to, educational programs for illegal immigrant children, compensation for medical outlays, and the reimbursement for the incarceration of illegal immigrants. Education funding for illegal alien children is the most substantial burden on American taxpayers due to the fact that it is a local governmental expense. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (Title I) provides funding to expand educational and academic opportunities for impoverished families. As reported by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, roughly $14 billion was allocated for this program. The vast majority of children falling within the economic standard of this program were the children of illegal aliens. In addition, LEP (Limited English Proficiency) drained up $730 million in 2009 from federal funding. Illegal aliens occupied nearly three-fourths of enrollment in LEP classes, totalling up $540 million in federal funding. On average, immigrants tend to have larger households than American citizens, resulting in the strain of educational resources and generating an even bigger toll on American taxpayers. 

Equipping illegal aliens with medical care that do not have medical insurance or treatment is authorized by federal law. Medical facilities acquire federal funding for providing emergency medical care without considering the aliens’ ability to pay or their legal status. Fortunately, Congress caught sight of the major funding that overwhelmed the medical costs paid for by taxpayers and ended the compensation in 2008. A new health care reform was enacted in 2009 which did not allow illegal aliens to participate. However, this did not stop fraudulent acts to gain access to this program and they went as far as to use stolen identities of U.S. citizens or qualified “green card holders.” 

“I didn’t think to do harm to anyone; I only wanted the pain to end,’ murmured Mariana de la Torre, 28, nearly two years after her cervical cancer pushed her, an illegal Mexican immigrant, into secretly using another woman's name and Social Security number for Medicaid benefits and other aid… Trinity [hospital] has absorbed roughly $317,000 in treatment costs for de la Torre, with Medicaid picking up an additional $106,000, the hospital said.”

-Chicago Tribute, 2009 

This documented case cost the hospital nearly half a million dollars for treatment of an illegal alien. This is just one of the many instances where American taxpayers are robbed unjustly. An organizer for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) confirmed that undocumented immigrants use stolen IDs routinely and it’s happening more commonly than officials suspect. It’s absurd that Americans are expected to idly sit by and accept the fact that they are being misappropriated. 

Illegal aliens have access to Medicaid coverage for any child that is born in the U.S, making the child a U.S. citizen. The coverage is paid for by federal taxpayers and (varying by state), the federal government picks up as much as three-fourths of the cost. This complication isn’t simply just a few families bringing a new child into the household, it’s much more complex than that. Those “few families” add up to 35% of the illegal immigrant population. Many of these births do not have Medicaid births since a portion of the illegal immigrants work illegally with false documents in jobs that supply medical insurance. Data from Los Angeles County confirmed that among the “undocumented,” only 2% paid for their own medical care while 22% said their medical insurance was provided by an employer. Not only is it the stumbling block of medical care that places a fiscal burden on Americans, birth deliveries are an immensely costly procedure. The average costs range from below $10,000 to even $20,000, depending on the simplicity of the delivery. The best case scenario is to assume each illegal birth averages $10,000. The total Medicaid costs of these births would total up to be $2.24 billion and as expected, the federal government is required to cough up the fees for alien immigrants. 

The federal government is first and foremost responsible for enforcements against illegal migration, leading Congress to allocate funds that will compensate the states for the incarcerations of convicted illegal aliens. Furthermore, upon their release or deportation, the federal government takes liability for these aliens. ICE Air flies six days a week to remove 240,000 aliens (2016), averaging a total cost of $163,200,000 just on deportation flights alone. The federal Bureau of Prisons spent $1.2 billion on the incarcerations of deported aliens in 2004. Not to mention, ICE is also accountable for detaining illegal aliens and providing their necessities until they can be removed by the Detention and Removal Office (DRO) of DHS. ICE is also involved in enforcement actions including investigations, construction of detention facilities, medical facilities, and headquarter expenses. Undeniably, the amount of compensation paid to states and enforcement agencies weighs on the shoulders of taxpayers and the federal government. 

Illegal aliens argue that permitting them legal status would subsequently bring them into the legal workforce, as such- they would become taxpayers. However, the reality is that the aliens currently in the illegal underground economy would be likely to file a tax return and request earned income tax credit (EITC) and child tax credits. This filing, of course, would be dependent on the recipient’s income and number of children, which precedes average household. 

Given this, there would be an immense rise in EITC claimants, which would drain the national treasury and bring drastic harm to economic development. A potential contention with this is that illegal aliens could potentially increase their earnings to reduce the outflow on the treasury. Yet even on this basis, studies reveal that wages would rise but the gap between median earnings for licensed workers would not show any statistically significant change. Therefore, any increase in earnings still yields to the notion that the EITC can still be declared by former illegal aliens. As demonstrated through this hypothetical, decriminalizing illegal aliens and giving them legal status will result in no significant change in the labor market nor for unauthorized immigrants. 

It is imperative that Americans realize a free society requires manageable proportions of immigration. The first step to this being a refining of public policy measures, rather than blatantly ignoring the problem- as the government thus far has done. To do this, a motion should be made to make it mandatory to pass a federal statute that will prohibit the employment of illegal aliens. Prior versions of this in a bill have been vetoed by the U.S. Senate, only going as far as being cleared by Congress. This is simply not enough. Americans must not let this idly pass by any longer, and must evict a strong message to outlaw such acts; perhaps, even set criminal penalties for repeat offenders. The consequences of illegal aliens have just begun, allowing for more crime and illicit behavior, as they are scarcely being held accountable for anything. Illegal aliens do not have to ponder on the risks- they have essentially nothing to lose. 

The clear question that follows is how the courts will decipher whether or not the employer intentionally broke the law. Following legal precedent, a demonstration of evidence is extensively difficult but the possibility of prosecution still exists and would act as a deterrent for more complacency with the law. This prompts the next contention as to how an employer would know whether or not an employee is a legal citizen. With fake documents so easily accessible to criminals, it’s not hard for an employer to be misled of the person’s real identity. With a court, this problem would be chaotic and lead to further investigation- an action the court does not have time for considering how dismissive the government feels about solving the problem of illegal immigration. If Americans are strong in pushing advocacy for this law, the mess must be minimal and quickly resolved. Hence why the only answer is to issue out non-counterfeitable and unchangeable social security cards to the entire population. 

Furthermore, Mexico, to some degree, is a by-product of previous actions by the United States. For numerous years, America has utilized Mexico for cheap pools of labor and for that, the U.S. is responsible for aiding the Mexican government in the depletion of economic forces that are still pushing masses of illegal aliens from Mexico into the illegal immigration stream. Americans cannot fully place the blame upon Mexico. And as a result from that matter, it is necessary that the U.S. grants universal amnesty to all illegal aliens who have lived here for a certain amount of years, given that they have no criminal records and have registered with the INS. 

The U.S. is entering a new era and Americans must recognize that the past cannot be repeated. Times are changing and the U.S. is no longer a nation of endless resources, boundaries, and inadequate labor. For this nation to thrive, it must continue to control the number of illegal aliens entering each year. The issue of illegal immigration is quickly reaching its capacity and it will soon collaspe, making it politically unobtainable to address the problem in a reasonable way.

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