Costs of Illegal Immigration to Floridians

Federation for American Immigration Reform, Aug 2005

Analysis of the latest Census data indicates Florida’s illegal immigrant population is costing the state’s taxpayers $4.3 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. Even if the estimated taxes collected from illegal immigrant workers are subtracted, net outlays still amount to more than $3.3 billion per year. The annual fiscal burden amounts to about $575 per Florida household headed by a native-born resident.

This analysis looks specifically at the costs to the state for education, health care and incarceration resulting from illegal immigration. These three are the largest cost areas, and they are the same three areas analyzed in a 1994 study conducted by the Urban Institute, which provides a useful baseline for comparison a decade later. Other studies have been conducted in the interim, showing trends that support the conclusions of this report.

There are other significant costs associated with illegal immigration, and federal and state officials should take these into account as well. Even without accounting for all of the numerous areas in which costs associated with illegal immigration are being incurred by Florida taxpayers, the program areas analyzed in this study indicate that the burden is substantial and that the costs are rapidly increasing.

The more than $4.3 billion in costs incurred by Florida taxpayers annually result from outlays in the following areas:

  • Education. Based on estimates of the illegal immigrant population in Florida and documented costs of K-12 schooling, Floridians spend more than $4 billion annually on education for illegal immigrant children and for their U.S.-born siblings. About 8.7 percent of the K-12 public school students in Florida are children of illegal aliens.

  • Health Care. Taxpayer-funded, unreimbursed medical outlays for health care provided to the state’s illegal alien population amount to about $165 million a year.

  • Incarceration. The uncompensated cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in Florida’s state and county prisons amounts to about $155 million a year (not including local jail detention costs or related law enforcement and judicial expenditures or the monetary costs of the crimes that led to their incarceration).

State and local taxes paid by the unauthorized immigrant population go toward offsetting these costs, but they do not come near to matching the expenses. The total of such payments can generously be estimated at nearly $1 billion per year.

The fiscal costs of illegal immigration do not end with these three major cost areas. The total costs of illegal immigration to the state’s taxpayers would be considerably higher if other cost areas such as special English instruction, welfare programs used by the U.S.-born children of illegal aliens, or welfare benefits for American workers displaced by illegal alien workers were also calculated.

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