Economic Impact of Illegal Immigrants Over $115 Billion Annually

FAIR estimates the economic impact of illegal immigrants to be over $115 billion annually

The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers

Report by Matt O'Brien and Spencer Raley | September 2017 | View the Full Report (PDF)


A continually growing population of illegal aliens, along with the federal government’s ineffective efforts to secure our borders, present significant national security and public safety threats to the United States. They also have a severely negative impact on the nation’s taxpayers at the local, state, and national levels. Illegal immigration costs Americans billions of dollars each year. Illegal aliens are net consumers of taxpayer-funded services and the limited taxes paid by some segments of the illegal alien population are, in no way, significant enough to offset the growing financial burdens imposed on U.S. taxpayers by massive numbers of uninvited guests. This study examines the fiscal impact of illegal aliens as reflected in both federal and state budgets.

The Number of Illegal Immigrants in the US

Estimating the fiscal burden of illegal immigration on the U.S. taxpayer depends on the size and characteristics of the illegal alien population. FAIR defines “illegal alien” as anyone who entered the United States without authorization and anyone who unlawfully remains once his/her authorization has expired. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has no central database containing information on the citizenship status of everyone lawfully present in the United States. The overall problem of estimating the illegal alien population is further complicated by the fact that the majority of available sources on immigration status rely on self-reported data. Given that illegal aliens have a motive to lie about their immigration status, in order to avoid discovery, the accuracy of these statistics is dubious, at best. All of the foregoing issues make it very difficult to assess the current illegal alien population of the United States.

However, FAIR now estimates that there are approximately 12.5 million illegal alien residents. This number uses FAIR’s previous estimates but adjusts for suspected changes in levels of unlawful migration, based on information available from the Department of Homeland Security, data available from other federal and state government agencies, and other research studies completed by reliable think tanks, universities, and other research organizations.

The Cost of Illegal Immigration to the United States

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. 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. This is a disturbing and unsustainable trend. The sections below will break down and further explain these numbers at the federal, state, and local levels.

Total Governmental Expenditures on Illegal Aliens

Total national costs of undocumented immigrants

Total Tax Contributions by Illegal Aliens

Total taxes paid by illegal immigrants

Total Economic Impact of Illegal Immigration 

economic impact of illegal immigration



The Federal government spends a net amount of $45.8 billion on illegal aliens and their U.S.-born children. This amount includes expenditures for public education, medical care, justice enforcement initiatives, welfare programs and other miscellaneous costs. It also factors in the meager amount illegal aliens pay to the federal government in income, social security, Medicare and excise taxes.

Federal Spending

The approximately $46 billion in federal expenditures attributable to illegal aliens is staggering. Assuming an illegal alien population of approximately 12.5 million illegal aliens and 4.2 million U.S.-born children of illegal aliens, that amounts to roughly $2,746 per illegal alien, per year. For the sake of comparison, the average American college student receives only $4,800 in federal student loans each year.

FAIR maintains that every concerned American citizen should be asking our government why, in a time of increasing costs and shrinking resources, is it spending such large amounts of money on individuals who have no right, nor authorization, to be in the United States? This is an especially important question in view of the fact that the illegal alien beneficiaries of American taxpayer largess offset very little of the enormous costs of their presence by the payment of taxes. Meanwhile, average Americans pay approximately 30% of their income in taxes.

Federal Taxes

Taxes collected from illegal aliens offset fiscal outlays and, therefore must be included in any examination of the cost of illegal immigration. However, illegal alien apologists frequently cite the allegedly large tax payments made by illegal aliens as a justification for their unlawful presence, and as a basis for offering them permanent legal status through a new amnesty, similar to the one enacted in 1986. That argument is nothing more than a red herring.

FAIR believes that most studies grossly overestimate both the taxes actually collected from illegal aliens and, more importantly, the amount of taxes actually paid by illegal aliens (i.e., the amount of money collected from illegal aliens and actually kept by the federal government). This belief is based on a number of factors: Since the 1990’s, the United States has focused on apprehending and removing criminal aliens. The majority of illegal aliens seeking employment in the United States have lived in an environment where they have little fear of deportation, even if discovered. This has created an environment where most illegal aliens are both able and willing to file tax returns. Because the vast majority of illegal aliens hold low-paying jobs, those who are subject to wage deductions actually wind up receiving a complete refund of all taxes paid, plus net payments made on the basis of tax credits.

As a result, illegal aliens actually profit from filing a tax return and, therefore, have a strong interest in doing so.

Total Federal Economic Impact of Illegal Immigration

State and Local

Even though the costs of illegal immigration borne by taxpayers at the federal level are staggering, they only pale in comparison to the fiscal burden shouldered by taxpayers at the state level. Most government taxes and fees remitted to government by Americans are paid in forms other than income taxes submitted to the IRS on April 15th. There are city and state income taxes, fuel surcharges, sales and property taxes, etc…. States and localities also bear the main burden for costs associated with public education, city and county infrastructure, and local courts and jails.

A further complication is the fact that, while barred from many federal benefits, state laws allow illegal aliens to access many state-funded social welfare programs. Because so little data is collected on the immigration status of individuals collecting benefits, it is difficult to determine the rate at which illegal aliens use welfare programs. However, based on the average income of illegal alien households, it appears they use these programs at a rate higher than lawfully present aliens or citizens.


State and Local Spending

The combined total of state and local government general expenditures on illegal aliens is $18,571,428,571 billion. The services referenced in this section are supported directly by the payment of city and state taxes and related fees. At the state level, examples of general expenditures would be the costs of general governance, fire departments, garbage collection, street cleaning and maintenance, etc. The state, county or municipality — or even a special taxing district in some situations — may provide some of these services. In most cases, localities offer more services than the state. By FAIR’s estimate, there is approximately a 65 percent to 35 percent cost share between local and state governments.

The estimate of general expenditure services received by illegal alien households, beyond the specific outlays mentioned in the sections above, excludes capital expenditures and debt servicing. The calculation for each state is based on the state’s annual operating budget, reduced by the amount covered by the federal government. That expenditure is then reduced further based on the relative size of the estimated population of illegal aliens and their U.S.-born minor children. As noted in our population estimate, this means states like California, Texas, Florida, New York, etc., with larger illegal alien cohorts, will bear larger shares of these costs.

State and Local Taxes Collected

Offsetting the fiscal costs of the illegal alien population are the taxes collected from them at the state and local level. Many proponents of illegal immigration argue that the taxes paid to the states render illegal aliens a net boon to state and local economies. However, this is a spurious argument. Evidence shows that the tax payments made by illegal aliens fail to cover the costs of the many services they consume.

Illegal aliens are not typical taxpayers. First, as previously noted in this study, the large percentage of illegal aliens who work in the underground economy frequently avoid paying any income tax at all. (Many actually receive a net cash profit through refundable tax credit programs.) Second, and also previously noted, the average earnings of illegal alien households are considerably lower than both legal aliens and native-born workers.

Total State and Local Economic Impact of Illegal Immigration

Combined Federal State Cost Tables




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Report: GOP Senators Push Amnesty for 2.5 Million Illegals via




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(Update) 14,000 illegal foreign workers arrested since July 1 in Malaysia via @NST_Online




Immigration Officials Taking New Steps to Discourage Smuggling of Children




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Trump to set refugee cap at 45,000 via @politico @AndrewRestuccia @tarapalmeri



Paul Bedard  ‏Verified account @SecretsBedard

Taxpayers cough up $8,075 a year to fund every single illegal immigrant sez @FAIRImmigration @dcexaminer



Paul Bedard‏  Verified account @SecretsBedard

Have you heard the one about how illegal immigrants pay sooo much in taxes? Not. @FAIRImmigration via @dcexaminer

FAIR  ‏Verified account @FAIRImmigration

This is what the White House wants in exchange for saving Dreamers from deportation via @McClatchyDC @anitakumar01



FAIR‏  Verified account @FAIRImmigration

GOP Senator Dodges Question On How His DACA Bill Stops Chain Migration via @dailycaller @NGivasDC




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Trump Admin Plans Crackdown on Illegal Alien Parents via @BreitbartTexas @JxhnBinde




Study: Amnesty for ‘Dreamers’ Could Lead to 1.4 Million More Migrants
Chain migration would greatly expand impact of permanent legal status for 690,000 DACA recipients

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Could Uncontrolled Immigration Expose Us to a Public Health Crisis?

AUGUST 2017 | Read the Full Report (PDF)

Communicable diseases do not stop at international borders. They could be one of the most dangerous – yet rarely considered – consequence of inadequate immigration controls. Nevertheless, the mainstream media, and most policy makers, avoid any discussion of the public health challenges presented by illegal immigration. However, in a world where rapid global travel is both accessible and affordable to large numbers of people, the possibility of an epidemic traceable to migrants is a reality that cannot be ignored.[1]

When people live in areas lacking basic sanitation and medical care, diseases will take root and spread rapidly.[2] This is neither an expression of xenophobia, nor an excuse to exclude migrants as “carriers of disease.” The need to control infectious disease is a simple fact of human biology.

Nevertheless, microbes can be carried only so far by moving air and water. Most illnesses are spread by contact with infected people, livestock or agricultural produce. As a result, researchers have concluded that the international movement of people is a significant factor in disease outbreaks: “Mobile populations can link zones of disease emergence to low prevalence or non-endemic areas through rapid or high-volume international movements, or both.”[3]  In plain English, that means that travelers can carry infections from one place to another.

Many of the people traveling to the United States – both legally and illegally – come from places with limited access to medical services and poor sanitation infrastructure. As a result, many migrants may have been exposed to a disease with public health ramifications. And it’s entirely possible that they aren’t aware they are at risk for infection.

Therefore, the United States must take steps to make public health screening an important part of our immigration processes. If we don’t, there is a very high risk that a foreign visitor may unknowingly import an easily communicable disease, like Ebola, which could have disastrous consequences were it to spread in a tightly packed metropolis like Los Angeles or New York. Furthermore, the possibility of terrorists using an infectious bio-weapon, while shocking to American sensibilities, is all too real.[4]

Could an Outbreak of Deadly Disease Happen Here?

Unfortunately, the answer is “Yes, it could happen here.” Germany provides a good case study. It is a developed nation whose healthcare system and immigration policies are comparable to those of the United States.

Germany recently accepted roughly two million refugees with minimal security vetting and virtually no health screening.[5] The majority of people relocated to Germany in this wave of migrants come from countries in the developing world that are currently experiencing social and political conflicts that make the delivery of medical services and the maintenance of basic sanitation services difficult, if not impossible. Their arrival without proper medical screening has had a negative effect on Germany’s health and welfare.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s equivalent of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is responsible for monitoring infectious diseases managing outbreaks. RKI recently reported a significant increase in communicable diseases across Germany.[6] In its annual report on “Infectious Disease Epidemiology in Germany,” the institute concluded that recent increases in dengue fever, Hantavirus, hemorrhagic fever, malaria, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases are directly attributable to the migrant stream currently pouring into Germany.[7]

Many of the infections mentioned in the RKI report have been rare in Europe for decades.[8] Their re-emergence is a significant threat to the general health and welfare of native Germans and new arrivals alike. Germany has a first class healthcare system that should be able to address a discrete outbreak of a single disease, even a serious one.[9]  However, the sheer number of refugees and the diversity of infectious diseases they appear to be spreading has been taxing the German public health infrastructure since the beginning of the refugee crisis.[10]

During the Obama administration, the U.S. experienced a mass migration event similar to the German refugee crisis: the arrival of significant numbers of unaccompanied alien children. Although less numerous than the Middle Eastern, African and South Asian refugees streaming into Germany, the Latin American children who arrived on the U.S. border came from countries with similar public health issues – lack of basic sanitation, limited access to healthcare services and an absence of preventative medicine programs. 

Their arrival was accompanied by significant increases in tuberculosis, dengue fever and swine flu infections.[11] Unaccompanied alien children also appear to have been the source of the deadly outbreak of the EV-D68 enterovirus that spread throughout the American West in 2014.[12] While these outbreaks were rapidly brought under control, that seems to have been a function of the relatively small numbers of alien kids. A full-blown refugee crisis of the type affecting Europe might have resulted in the type of across-the-board increase in disease that Germany is presently experiencing.

Currently, U.S. immigration law mandates health screening only for individuals seeking to obtain Lawful Permanent Resident status and those hoping enter the country as refugees.[13] The roughly 300 million foreigners who make temporary visits to the U.S. each year don’t even have to show they’ve had a flu shot. Pets, livestock, cargo, and agricultural products crossing the border undergo regular inspection for disease vectors; people don’t.

If this seems like a large gap in our defenses – it is. The complete lack of health screening for short-term visitors to the United States makes America particularly susceptible to the terrorist use of infectious diseases as weapons. National security scholars have even suggested that terror groups may already be exploring the use of Ebola and other diseases as a low-tech bioweapon.[14] “Such groups could simply use human carriers to intentionally infect themselves…” and spread the diseases via the world’s air transportation system.[15]

How Can the U.S. Protect Itself From an Epidemic Caused by Unchecked Migration?

Wouldn’t health screening just cause backups at the border and cripple the tourism industry? After all, isn’t it impossible to prevent viruses and bacteria that can only be seen with a microscope from crossing the border?

There is an old saying among medical practitioners: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Immigration is a perfect illustration of that old adage. It isn’t possible to screen everytraveler for every infectious disease. It is, however, possible to screen many visitors for the most of the infections that pose a significant threat.

The first and most obvious way for the United States to protect itself from a public health crisis is to take the threat seriously and secure its borders. President Trump’s proposed border wall would decrease the possibility of immigration violators importing infectious diseases by simply prohibiting unauthorized border crossings. Illegal aliens who cross the border anyplace other than an authorized port of entry avoid undergoing even the most basic health screenings

The U.S. also needs to make public health screening a standard part of immigration processing, before it’s too late. For example:

  • Provide ports of entry with the latest technology for the rapid discovery of infectious disease. Researchers have recently developed a breath analyzer that can detect 17 different diseases using a single breath sample.[16] Other, similar technology is being rapidly developed and should be available for purchase soon.
  • Expand the use of “sniffer” dogs at ports of entry. For years, specially-trained canines have been used to sniff out bombs, illegal drugs and agricultural contraband at ports of entry. Medical researchers have recently trained disease-sniffing dogs.[17] These working dogs could be used to rapidly and effectively screen for infected travelers.
  • The U.S. Department of State (DOS) could require proof of certain vaccinations prior to issuing a visa to international travelers.
  • DOS could also require travelers from regions with known public health issues to undergo preventative medical treatment (e.g. prophylactic treatment with antibiotics or anti-retroviral drugs) prior to traveling to the United States.
  • Many diseases of public health concern, like anthrax, are transmitted from animals to humans. Agriculture Specialists working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service could be trained to administer brief infectious disease questionnaires to travelers arriving at U.S. ports of entry.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers could be authorized to order secondary health screening for visibly ill travelers. 
  • The U.S. Public Health Service and Centers for Disease Control’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine should have personnel trained in the detection and containment of infectious disease stationed at every official port of entry.


Most of the recent debate on immigration and border security has focused on protecting the American public from terrorism and transnational crime. However, lax immigration enforcement also exposes the American public to the threat of infectious disease outbreaks. Moreover, the emergence of public health crisis tied to unchecked mass migration is a possibility that cannot be ignored.

While the threat is grave, the good news is that the United States has the knowledge, the resources, and the technology to protect itself from a tragic outbreak. However, we must take appropriate measures to protect ourselves before it is too late. Too often, when it comes to immigration, our public health officials have been searching for an elusive pound of cure when the proverbial ounce of prevention is easily within reach.

Footnotes and endnotes

[1] Rick Oltman, “Importing Diseases – Mass Immigration Endangers Our National Well-Being,” The Social Contract, Winter 2017,

[2] Duncan Mara, Jon Lane, Beth Scott, and David Trouba, “Sanitation and Health,” PLoS Med, November 2010,

[3] B.D. Gushulak, J. Weekers and D.W. MacPherson, “Migrants and Emerging Public Health Issues in a Globalized World: Threats, Risks and Challenges, an Evidence-Based Framework,” Emerging Health Threats, March 31, 2010,

[4] G.F. Webb, “A Silent Bomb: The Risk of Anthrax as a Weapon of Mass Destruction,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2003,

[5] Chris Tomlinson, “Germany Sees Record Breaking 2 Million Migrants in 2015,” Breitbart London

[6] Robert Koch Institute, Infektionsepidemiologisches Jahrbuch meldepflichtiger Krankheiten für 2016, March 1, 2017,

[7] Soeren Kern, “Germany: Infectious Diseases Spreading as Migrants Settle In,” Gatestone Institute, July 14, 2017,

[8] Von Claudia Kade, “Kliniken klagen über belastung durch Flüchtlinge,” die Welt, October 4, 2015,

[9] Miriam Blümel and Reinhard Busse, “The German Health Care System,” The Commonwealth Fund  

[10] Soeren Kern, “Germany: Migration Crisis Becomes Public Health Crisis,” Gatestone Institute, November 8, 2015,

[11] Judicial Watch, “Illegal Alien Minors Spreading TB, Dengue, Swine Flu,” July 8, 2014,

[12] Neil Munro, “Obama’s Border Policy Fueled Epidemic, Evidence Shows,” The Daily Caller, October 31, 2014,

[13] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Immigrant and Refugee Health – Medical Examination: Frequently Asked Questions,” 

[14] Amanda M. Teckman, “The Bioterrorist Threat of Ebola in East Africa and Implications for Global Health and Security,” Global Policy, May 24, 2013,

[15] Bruce Dorminey, “Ebola as ISIS Bio-Weapon.” Forbes, October 5, 2014,

[16] Henry Bodkin, “Scientists Develop Device to Detect 17 Different Diseases – Just From Patient’s Breath,” The Telegraph, December 21, 2016,

[17] Ike Swetlitz, “4 Ways Dogs Might Be Able to Sniff Out Disease,” STAT, April 29,2016,




4 days ago
California's hepatitis A outbreaks: Why is the virus spreading?

By Rachael Rettner Senior Writer, LiveScience

Nearly 450 people in San Diego have become infected with hepatitis A over the last 10 months, making it the largest outbreak of the illness in California in decades.

On Tuesday (Sept. 19), officials in San Diego said the number of hepatitis cases in the city had climbed to 444, up from 421 last week. Of those infected, 305 have been hospitalized, and 16 have died. (For comparison, the city had just 22 cases of hepatitis A in 2015.)


Also this week, Los Angeles declared its own hepatitis outbreak, with 10 cases reported so far. And Santa Cruz County, in northern California, has reported 69 cases of the virus since April. The outbreaks in all three areas are occurring primarily among people who are homeless or who use illegal drugs. But what's causing hepatitis to spread in these areas?

In general, people become infected with hepatitis A through the "fecal-oral" route — that is, when small amounts of stool from an ill person contaminate objects, food or drinks that are then touched and ingested by another person, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

San Diego officials say the outbreak there is being spread from person to person "through contact with a fecally contaminated environment." This type of contamination can occur when people with the illness don't properly wash their hands after going to the bathroom, according to the CDC.

More than 50 percent of hepatitis cases in San Diego are in homeless people, who are known to be at increased risk for hepatitis A, in part because homelessness presents challenges to keeping good hygiene, such as limited access to toilets and hand-washing facilities, according to a 2009 paper published in the journal Public Health Reports.

Clusters of hepatitis A cases have also occurred in some facilities with shared restrooms, including jails and residential drug treatment facilities, San Diego officials said. The infection can also spread through the sharing of equipment related to illicit drug use, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

On Sept. 1, San Diego declared a local public health emergency because of the hepatitis outbreak. The city has taken several steps to combat the outbreak, including vaccinating about 19,000 people against hepatitis A to prevent future illnesses, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported . Officials have also installed 40 hand-washing stations throughout the downtown area and have disinfected some city streets with bleach.

The strain of hepatitis involved in the San Diego outbreak is the same as the one in the Santa Cruz outbreak, which suggests the outbreaks are related, according to the County of San Diego's Public Health Services Division. (The strain involved in the LA outbreak has not been reported, but five of the LA cases involved people who visited either San Diego or Santa Cruz before their infection began, officials said.)


The hepatitis A virus can infect the liver and cause inflammation and damage to the organ, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Symptoms can include dark-yellow urine, fever, joint pain, nausea and vomiting. People with the infection usually get better on their own without treatment, the NIH says. But in some cases, the infection can lead to liver failure , particularly in older adults or people who have other liver diseases.

In general, the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for children at age 1; travelers to countries that have high rates of hepatitis A; users of illegal drugs; people with chronic liver diseases, such as hepatitis C ; men who have sexual contact with other men; and people who work with animals infected with hepatitis A, according to the CDC.

Because of the outbreak in San Diego, officials there are also recommending that people get the vaccine if they are homeless, have close contact with the homeless or illicit drug users, or work in jobs where they handle food. It's also recommended that any person who wants to obtain immunity against hepatitis A get the vaccine, San Diego officials said.

Original article on Live Science .

Jeff Sessions: Asylum system is 'subject to rampant abuse and fraud'
by Kelly Cohen | Oct 12, 2017, 10:05 AM


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