Fact Check: The True Cost of Illegal Immigration

As America once again faces a surge of migrants at the southern border, the country is taking a hard look at the true impact of illegal immigration on our society.

The effects of illegal immigration are varied and far-reaching, and while the precise impact is difficult to determine, we can get measure the economic and public safety effects.

Part of the problem with determining the scope of the illegal immigration issue begins with determining just how many people are here illegally. Estimates run from 12 to 25 million people are here illegally. Most reputable studies place the number closer to the 12 million level, while the higher estimates are usually unsourced.

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The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) bases most of their studies on the estimate of 12.5 million illegal immigrants in America. Even though FAIR has advocated for tough immigration policies, they are widely quoted as experts on the issue. Even Politifact, which tends to have a liberal bias, recognizes FAIR as a legitimate source, although it does characterize them as “right-leaning.”


In a 2017 study, FAIR released a study of the impact of illegal immigration on the American economy, and the numbers were staggering. Even when taking into account the their contributions to the tax base, illegal immigrants cost the American taxpayer nearly $116 billion dollars.

“At the federal, state, and local levels, taxpayers shell out approximately $134.9 billion to cover the costs incurred by the presence of more than 12.5 million illegal aliens, and about 4.2 million citizen children of illegal aliens,” the study said. “That amounts to a tax burden of approximately $8,075 per illegal alien family member and a total of $115,894,597,664. The total cost of illegal immigration to U.S. taxpayers is both staggering and crippling. In 2013, FAIR estimated the total cost to be approximately $113 billion. So, in under four years, the cost has risen nearly $3 billion.”

illegal immigration

The study points out that illegal immigrants do, in fact, make a significant contribution to the tax base, nearly $19 billion dollars. However, their contributions are easily eclipsed by the costs they incur.

Contrary to some assertions, illegal immigrants cannot claim or collect welfare, but they can benefit from public services. The two main benefits – education and health care – make up most of the costs the states incur. Over $44 billion is spent to educate illegal immigrant children, mostly at the public school level. In addition, over $12 billion is spent on health care for illegals, mostly from county-level hospitals who provide medical services without being compensated.

California, Texas, Florida, and New York, states with the highest illegal populations, make up most of these expenses.


Most studies tracking crime statistics – even studies from the most conservative organizations – have found that immigrants as a whole are less likely to commit crimes than even native-born Americans. However, these studies fail to differentiate legal immigrants from illegal immigrants. In many cases, the citizenship status of a criminal is not even tracked, so we may never know the full extent of illegal immigrant crime.

Alex Norwasteh of The Cato Group, a conservative think tank, has done an extensive study on crime rates of immigrants, and came to the same conclusion: immigrants, legal and illegal, commit crimes at lower rates than native born citizens. Even when they are able to track illegal alien crime – as they did in Texas, where illegal immigrant crime is documented – the crime rates fall below those committed by U.S. citizens.

However, even they admit that illegal immigrant crime is an important issue, despite the rates. “None of what I wrote above will console a victim of illegal immigrant crime – and it shouldn’t,” Norwasteh wrote. “To those victims and their loved ones, their pain is not diminished by knowing how unlikely it was to happen to them. There will be criminals in any large group of people and there are some infuriating and shocking anecdotes.”

Regardless of the numbers, what sets illegal immigrant crime apart as a serious issue is that fact that it is preventable, with sufficient immigration enforcement. A murder committed by an illegal immigrant, however rare, is tragic because it could have been reasonably prevented. In many cases, the criminal had already crossed paths with law enforcement, and often allowed to stay in the country.

The murder of Kate Steinle became a flashpoint in the immigration debate. José Inez García Zárate, a Mexican national who had been deported five times, shot and killed Steinle on a San Francisco pier in 2015. Zarate claimed the shooting was an accident, and a California jury agreed, acquitting him of murder charges. He was convicted on a gun charge, as the weapon had been stolen from the car of a government employee days before.

Donald Trump, while a candidate for President, pointed to the Steinle murder as proof of the danger of “sanctuary states” like California. Despite previous felony convictions, California did not deport Zarate or imprison him when it had the chance, making the Steinle shooting an inevitability.

Numerous instances of violent and high-profile crimes by illegal immigrants has only highlighted the danger. In 2017, an illegal immigrant who had been previously deported shot and killed two California sheriff’s deputies, and then laughed and cursed his way through the trial.

In 2017, a Maryland man was decapitated by an illegal immigrant who was a member of the brutal Mexican gang MS-13. Dozens more violent crimes have been traced to MS-13, who often bring in members illegally from Mexico.

Even on our border, there is evidence that criminals are coming in with little deterrent. Last year, a viral video showed border crossers carrying semi-automatic weapons.

This video highlights the danger on the border, as a number of migrants hoping to enter America turn violent when they are not allowed to enter.

Dangerous Caravan

This is what the liberal, mainstream media refuses to show you. When others tell you that these migrant caravans are just peaceful migrants looking for a better option, show them this video. These 'peaceful migrants' are Hondurans, attacking Mexican border patrol on the way to America's southern border.Do you see why we need a wall? Follow us for updates >> https://www.facebook.com/WeBuildTheWallCredit: Global News

Posted by We Build The Wall Inc on Wednesday, March 27, 2019

While statistically violent crimes by immigrants are rare, the instances above prove the facts don’t change the tragedy that lives could be saved, if immigration laws were strictly enforced.

When President Donald Trump makes statements about the immigration crisis, he is often met with criticism from his political opponents. However, a recent CNN poll found that the #1 issue that concerns 2020 voters is illegal immigration, making it clear the President’s views will continue to resonate with many Americans.

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