Immigration Costs More Than Thought

Peter A. Brown, Orlando Sentinel, Oct. 14

In the emotional debate over immigrants, there has always been an ambiguity about whether they are a financial burden or bonanza.

But now, a renowned University of Florida economist who is admittedly pro-immigration in his personal politics has found that its net financial cost to taxpayers is much larger than anyone had been able to quantify previously.

UF economist David Denslow found a net cost of $1,800 per year to the state per immigrant family, which will provide ammunition for the anti-immigration folks.

Denslow’s academic credentials and political track record add credibility to the finding. He is a distinguished service professor, a registered Democrat who voted for President Bush in 2000 but against him in 2004, and was an adviser to Republican Gov. Bob Martinez in the 1980s.

He crunched the numbers and found in Florida each immigrant household costs the state roughly $1,800 on a net basis. In other words, $1,800 is the total of how much more public services immigrants consume mostly Medicaid and education and how much less in taxes they pay than does the average resident.

Although his research and calculations pertain only to Florida, “We would think that would be close to the national figure” for other states, Denslow said.

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But just taking the roughly 10 million illegal immigrants in the United States, and using Denslow’s figures, that would come to a cost of about $18 billion annually, slightly more than the entire NASA budget.

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